SELLING DENIM SOURCINGJOURNAL.COM
WORKWEAR REVIVAL NO. 16 / SUMMER 2022
Angela Velasquez Executive Editor, Rivet
SHOP GIRL Somewhere between millennial’s “side hustle” and “girl boss” glamorization of working yourself into the ground in the 2010s and the rise of conscious consumption in the 2020s, admitting that you enjoy spending your free time shopping became a faux pas. I know from first-hand experience. By today’s digital-first standards, you could say that I spend an obscene amount of time in stores. It doesn’t matter where or what kind. My go-to weekend activity is to wander down Fifth Avenue, popping in and out of stores. My ideal spot to catch up with friends is an air-conditioned department store, and if I’m traveling, you better believe I’ll end up at that city’s main shopping street, flea market and grocery store. Retail is the common thread of some of my fondest memories. I met my best friend, Paul, while working as the gift wrap girl at The Conran Shop, bonded forever by experiencing the demands of its Upper East Side clientele. As a kid, I was my Nan’s yard sale buddy on weekends and as a teen, malls were where my mom and I turned shopping into a marathon. You knew it was a good mall day if you were driving home in the dark. Even now our idea of a fun day out is centered around a 2-hour trip to Target. Add 30 minutes if its Halloween or Christmas season. But it’s not even about buying or acquiring stuff because I prefer to walk out of stores empty handed nowadays. Rather, the act of “going shopping” is my chosen form of entertainment—visual eye-candy, a chance to break away from the screen, an opportunity to discover and learn what’s new and next. So, I cringe any time I hear someone say traditional retail is dead, or worse, that they only order from Amazon. It took a pandemic for me to cave to Amazon Prime and I’m not yet sold on whether it’s going to become part of my “new normal.” I’ve also felt the subtle judgement of people when I’ve told them the garment or accessory they complimented was from a fast-fashion retailer. “It’s vintage” is the new “I’m gluten-free” in some circles. My love for shopping doesn’t exclude vintage, however. Or resale, rental, upcycled or thrifted. I’m also a fan of online and I am easy bait for targeted ads on social media. When it comes to retail, I’ll try anything. It is my hope that the denim sector becomes just as adventurous. The industry is boisterous about its products and how they’re made, but few platforms ever touch on how jeans are even sold. From ecommerce’s humble beginnings to the fit and sustainability strategies filtering onto the shop floor, this issue sheds light on the ways retailers are navigating their pandemic recoveries. With no one-size-fits-all solutions to selling jeans, it’s the perfect time for brands and retailers to shop around and find what fits their business.
Peter Sadera Editor in Chief, Sourcing Journal Jessica Binns Managing Editor Arthur Friedman Senior Editor Vicki M. Young Executive Financial Reporter Jasmin Malik Chua Sourcing & Labor Editor Kate Nishimura Features Editor Kari Hamanaka Logistics Editor Glenn Taylor Business Editor Liz Warren Staff Writer Chuck Dobrosielski Staff Writer Lauren Parker Branded Content Manager Sarah Jones Senior Editor, Strategic Content Development Andre Claudio Staff Writer, Strategic Content Development A R T DE PA R TM E N T
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C OVER C REDIT S : ALIC E + O LIVIA TOP; ALPHA I NDUSTRI E S BOMBER JAC K E T; AT T IC O PA N TS ; D O C M ART ENS BO OTS ; ME R EARRING. PHOTOGRAPHY BY LEXI E MO R E L A N D
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TABL E OF CO NT E NTS 05 20 24 28 33 36 40 44 50 66 ALEXANDER MCQUEEN DENIM AND LEATHER JACKET AND JEANS; RE/DONE X HANES TANK TOP; DOC MARTENS BOOTS; MER EARRING AND RING; LARUICCI NECKLACE; RUSH JEWELRY DESIGN, JOANNA LAURA CONSTANTINE AND CELESTE STARRE RINGS.
RIVET NO.15 NO.16
SPRING SUMMER2022 2022
GREEN MARKET Natural dyes, upcycling schemes and traceable technologies add a new level of innovation to the latest denim collections. ONLINE ORIGINS From risky to essential, e-commerce has been built on a bedrock of trust and convenience. PAYMENT POWER Are pay-by-installment plans behind denim’s resurgence? SOCIAL SHOPPER After the social commerce boom of 2021, brands are tapping into a new realm of retail with a hyperfocused audience. NEW RULES With sustainability and e-commerce on the rise, Andreas Kurz, Akari Enterprises founder, consultant and denim guru, shares how the current denim boom is unlike any other. RETAIL PULSE Denim stalwarts Fred Segal and Over the Rainbow share what’s hot and what’s not. THE OG WORKHORSE With 100 years of workwear under its belt, Denny Bruce, Dickies global brand president, shares how the heritage brand is adjusting to post-pandemic realities and new consumer values. DOWN TO THE CORE The current state of fashion is a duel between core items and themed “cores” built around social media-driven fads. WORK IT Workwear goes glam. SELLING SUSTAINABILITY Retailers are expanding their conscious edits, but are buyers asking brands the right questions about their sustainable manufacturing? MORE ISSUES THAN VOGUE Port delays and geopolitical uncertainty have kept denim companies on their toes, but supply chain overhauls might help navigate future landmines. CONTROL GROUP Denim retail titans double down on warehousing space and fulfillment technologies.
Constructed from a blend of 80% Post Industrial Waste and 20% Post Consumer Waste fibers, while using zero dyeing
GREEN MARKET Natural dyes, upcycling schemes and traceable technologies add a new level of innovation to the latest denim collections.
Best Foot Forward A new collaboration showcases the best in British denim head culture. U.K. footwear brand Grenson bowed a special edition denim boot made in collaboration with fashion forecaster and denim creative Kelly Harrington. For the “Kelly boot,” Harrington kept the production local by teaming with Blackhorse Lane Atelier to supply the denim scraps that were used to assemble the boots’ patchwork upper. The denim was selected and arranged to include a range of blue tones, seam details from the original jeans and natural fraying. No two shoes are alike. “When designing this limited-edition boot with Grenson, I really wanted to highlight my love for repurposed denim and circularity by upcycling unwanted vintage denim scraps into something beautiful,” Harrington said. “Beautiful things can be made from textile waste.” Harrington said she was especially drawn to Grenson for its artisanal and heritage style. “Like denim, a good pair of shoes lasts for years and [gets] better with age,” she said. The Kelly boot is available now in men’s and women’s sizes on Grenson’s website and retails for $770. —Angela Velasquez
Kelly Harrington x Grenson
Levi’s Fresh offers colorful denim, tees and sweats dyed with naturederived dyes made from plants and botanicals. For the collection, Levi’s applied new dyeing methods to produce vibrant shades of peach, lavender, pink and yellow. All dyes in the collection feature a minimum of 50 percent plant or mineral content. The methods were applied to both yarn and garment dyed pieces. The dyes come from one of three natural sources, including nonendangered or non-threatened plants—like madder root extract and natural indigo—agricultural byproducts that can’t be used as food—like pomegranate skins—and minerals like clays, carbonates and natural oxides. Levi’s noted that one of the benefits of plant and mineral dyes is that they need fewer additives to adhere to the yarn, making it a much more sustainable and important innovation for the dyeing process. The collection is based on Fresh Produce, a range from the ’70s that was inspired by the local farmer’s market. All pieces are accented with special tabs featuring various fruits and vegetables. Designed to be worn in monochromatic head-to-toe looks or mixed and matched, styles span 551Z Straight Crop jeans and Type II Trucker jackets to XX Chino shorts and Red Tab Vintage tees. The concept will get a cozy update with corduroy in the fall. —AV
With its latest initiative, Guess is advancing circularity efforts and supporting the Los Angeles community. The brand recently launched an instore recycling program in which it collects worn clothing from customers and gives it a second life through a partnership with recycling solutions provider Homeboy Recycling, which sorts and processes items for repair and resale, as well as upcycling and recycling. The mission-based organization employs people committed to transforming their lives after incarceration. Known for its gang rehabilitation and re-entry program, Homeboy Recycling focuses on developing businesses that create jobs and meaningful training opportunities in L.A. The partnership marks Homeboy Recycling’s first foray into textile recycling, as the organization typically focuses on IT asset refurbishment. After a successful pilot period, the initiative is being rolled out at all Guess, Guess Factory, Accessories and Marciano stores across the U.S. Customers who bring in five or more items of used clothing from any brand or store will receive a 15 percent discount on their next full-priced qualifying Guess purchase. “Our partnership with Homeboy Recycling creates a pathway toward the development of more sustainable products,” said Carlos Alberini, Guess, Inc. CEO. “This initiative represents another strong step toward our Vision Guess commitment to develop more circular business models. The Guess partnership with Homeboy Recycling creates economic opportunities for our L.A. community and offers a solution for apparel and textile waste.” —Liz Warren
Status Check Coming off the heels of a $7.5 million funding round, robotics and digital apparel company Unspun has achieved B Corp status, joining the likes of ethical denim brands including Outland Denim and Good American that have met the highest verified standards of social and environmental performance. The brand’s B Corp certification affirms its mission to use the power of business to build a more inclusive and sustainable economy. Administered by the nonprofit B Lab, B Corp certification measures corporate performance across governance, workers, customers, community and the environment. The certification aligns with the company’s founding mission to drive a 1 percent gigaton-scale carbon emissions reduction through what it calls “localized and intentional manufacturing.” Developed as a sustainable solution to denim production, the company creates each pair of jeans on-demand according to a digital scan of the wearer’s body. The 10-second scan can be accessed through the company’s app or at one of its three locations in the U.S. and Hong Kong. Each jean takes four weeks to produce. Along with its B Corp certification announcement, Unspun added two new fits to its assortment: a bootcut and a retro flare, both of which are gaining traction as the skinny fades out. Bootcut styles are available in light, medium, dark and black denim, and flare styles are available in light and medium indigo. Jeans retail for $200-$215. —LW 08
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In the Round Reformation added a new circular element to the jeans it makes with traceable cotton. The brand launched Circular Denim, a collection made with fabrics comprised of 20 percent recycled scrap cotton and 80 percent FibreTrace cotton. Reformation introduced last year its first line of Ref Jeans woven with cotton that contains FibreTrace, a technology that embeds traceable, scannable pigments directly into the fabric of its jeans. The technology allows consumers to use their smartphones to track a garment’s entire lifecycle, with each audit—from the cotton farm, to production, to the finishing stages—securely recorded on the virtual blockchain. The Circular Denim range is the result of Reformation’s collaboration with Turkish denim mill Bossa and Strom, a fully vertical manufacturer and laundry also based in Turkey. Both companies employ various methods to reduce waste and produce sustainably. Strom uses ozone technology that significantly reduces the laundry’s water, chemicals and energy consumption, while Bossa is developing a zero-waste life cycle to close the loop. Circular styles include a V-neck mini dress with font snaps, utility overalls, pleated trouser jeans and relaxed jean shorts. The Cynthia highrise jean, Ref Denim’s best-selling style with waitlists of nearly 9,000, is part of the collection. All styles are 100 percent recyclable through Reformation’s RefRecycling program, which incentivizes consumers to exchange preowned Reformation brand denim, footwear, sweaters and activewear at credit. —LW
AG’s Jean of Tomorrow concept collection just got more sustainable. The brand’s second iteration of its 100 percent biodegradable range of men’s and women’s denim includes five items made with natural dyes derived from madder root and myrobalan nuts from a farm collective in India. The result is a collection of denim shorts and straight-leg and slim jeans in a palette of soft brown, pink and cream tones. The collection is available now and retails for $168-$218. AG’s biodegradable denim fabrics is made with a blend of organic cotton, Tencel and hemp. All garments in the collection are stitched with sustainable thread made from Tencel, and used corozo buttons derived from nuts, which are known for their scratch- and fade-resistant properties. AG also used responsible supply chain processes such as laser and ozone finishing technology and water recycling methods for optimal water and energy savings. —LW
On the Up and Up Danish fashion brand Ganni takes upcycled denim to new heights in its second collaboration with Priya Ahluwalia, founder and designer of London fashion label Ahluwalia. The collection is made exclusively of deadstock denim, with 16 styles spanning a trench coat, a denim suit, a cut-out dress, bucket hat and more. Ditte Reffstrup, Ganni creative director, said the collection is about “celebrating the things we missed during lockdown.” Featuring heaps of patchwork denim and laser-printed patterns, the range pulls influences from Ahluwalia’s Indian-Nigerian heritage and London roots, ’90s denim and Ganni’s Scandi style defined by puffed sleeves and dramatic silhouettes. For Ahluwalia, the collection marked her foray into denim. “Working with an all-denim collection has been a great challenge, really amplifying the power of using one universal material—which was a first for me,” she said. “Denim is so interesting, as people from all walks of life wear it. We wanted to underline that versatility throughout the campaign and collection.” Ganni also announced Ahluwalia will join its creative collective, a forum that invites creatives to collaborate on projects. The collective will announce collaborators later this year. —LW
World Tour The upcycled Tommy Hilfiger look Shawn Mendes wore to the Met Gala in May was just a teaser of what was to come. The “Stitches” singer stars in the brand’s Spring 2022 campaign “Classic Reborn,” centered on a collection fully made from more sustainable materials. He will also co-design a capsule collection for Spring 2023. The “Classics Reborn” campaign features Mendes wearing styles from the 1985 Program collection, including a polo made from organic cotton and less water and energyintensive jeans produced using 20 percent post-consumer recycled cotton. Merging old with new, the looks are styled with curated vintage Tommy Hilfiger pieces. In line with the brand’s sustainability goals, the Spring 2023 collection will offer classic Tommy Hilfiger pieces reimagined sustainably through recycled and new material innovations, and circular design practices. “By joining forces with Shawn to learn, share and innovate, we can build upon what we’ve already achieved and take our sustainability journey to the next level,” said Tommy Hilfiger. “While we recognize we still have a long way to go, together we can build even more awareness to make a positive, lasting impact.” The partnership will extend into Mendes upcoming tour, “Wonder: The World Tour.” Throughout the tour, he will wear sustainable designs made with deadstock fabrics. Sustainability is a running theme for the tour. Mendes has committed to making the tour climate positive by reducing CO2 emissions by 50 percent per show compared to his last world tour in 2019, and mitigating all remaining emissions through a combination of carbon removal and carbon avoidance projects. To “support their shared mission,” Tommy Hilfiger will donate $1 million to help make the tour’s sustainability program possible. The company said a substantial portion of this investment will be donated to regenerative cotton farming “to continue to build upon the impact of Tommy Hilfiger’s wider sustainability initiatives.”—AV 14
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Top of the Class The NPD Group names America’s top-selling jeans brands. w o r ds _____LIZ WARREN
The results are in: Levi’s, AG, Amiri, Brunello Cuccinelli and Gloria Vanderbilt are the top-selling jeans brands of 2021, according to recent data from The NPD Group. The market information company announced the winners of its inaugural Denim Retail Performance Awards honoring top-performing brands based on U.S. sales revenue last year, which is compiled through the company’s Retail Tracking Service. Top brands were organized by category, including best jeans brand priced $100 and higher, awarded to AG; best women’s plus-sized jeans brand, awarded to Gloria Vanderbilt; best men’s luxury jeans brand, awarded to Amiri; best women’s luxury jeans brand, awarded to Brunello Cuccinelli; and best jeans brand overall, awarded to Levi’s. The rankings may be unsurprising to those in the denim industry who watched Levi’s earn $5.8 billion in 2021 revenue—its highest since 1998. The recognition is just one of the brand’s recent accolades, which includes a “best-fitting jeans” award by fit technology company True Fit in 2020 and a spot on the 2021 Global RepTrak 100’s list of most reputable companies. Premium denim brand AG’s distinction comes on the heels of its 20th anniversary celebrations in 2021, when it reflected on its penchant for unique washes and environmentally conscious design. Gloria Vanderbilt, the iconic women’s denim label established in 1976 by the late “Jean Queen” namesake and industry veteran Mohan Murjani, continues to pull in customers with unique collaborations. It recently partnered with CFDA designer Christian Siriano on a jeans collection presented at New York Fashion Week in September. Luxury fashion brand Amiri is expanding its presence with more brickand-mortar stores powered by Tulip, a cloud-based mobile retail solution. The brand’s parent company, OTB Group, also remains at the cutting edge of technological advancements. In December, it debuted Brave Virtual Xperience (BVX), a business unit dedicated to developing products for the metaverse, which it says will help the company generate new business opportunities and connect with younger demographics. Brunello Cuccinelli’s success trickled into this year, with a 19.6 percent increase in revenue in Q1 2022, signaling it could maintain its top-rated
reputation among U.S. consumers for years to come. In an earnings call on April 13, the company confirmed it expects a revenue bump of 12 percent and 10 percent for 2022 and 2023, respectively. Denim in general has had significant success in the past few years, attributable to a new cycle of looser fits, as well as the casualization trend sweeping post-pandemic society. NPD reported that jeans generated $18.4 billion in U.S. sales last year, a 36 percent increase since 2020 and a 9 percent spike since 2019. All genders were affected by the pandemic-fueled shift, as jeans sales were up 12 percent for men and 9 percent for women compared to 2019. “Jeans were among the first clothing items to rebound after 2020, as consumers sought a wardrobe refresh and craved the latest fashion trends to make their debut back into public life,” said Susan Merrill, president of fashion apparel for NPD. “Offering a variety of styles and options catering to consumers’ demands for comfortable clothing that can be dressed up or down, jeans manufacturers continue to be leaders in innovation.” The future of jeans is looking just as bright. Data from market research firm Research and Markets indicates that the global denim jeans market is expected to reach $76.1 billion by 2026 from $57.3 billion in 2020. Regionally, the U.S. represents the biggest global consumer of denim jeans and has the world’s highest per capita jeans consumer. SUMMER 2022
A more agile, flexible and sustainable supply chain with digital product development and manufacturing.
Second Chance Style Two players in the denim space are taking different approaches to stepping into the piping hot resale category. Pacsun
w o r ds _____ANGELA VELASQUEZ
The secondhand market is projected to double in the next five years to
reach $77 billion according to resale platform ThredUp, and denim brands and retailers want in on the action. In its 75th year, Wrangler stepped into resale this spring with the launch of Wrangler Reborn, a curated collection of vintage men’s and women’s jeans from as early as the 1950s to 2000 and preloved jeans from 2000 or after. “Wrangler jeans are timeless and loved across generations, and this collection appeals to denim heads, longtime Wrangler fans and young vintage-lovers alike, representing the importance of our heritage and proving that this collection is truly one for the ages,” said Vivian Rivetti, Wrangler VP of global design. The most featured fits in Wrangler Reborn were originally built for durability and longevity for the cowboys of the American West and then adopted globally in the 1960s. The assortment includes styles from the brand’s archives, including 1950s Blue Bell jeans and two continued bestselling jeans. The 13MWZ Cowboy Cut jean is known as a wardrobe staple originally made by cowboys for cowboys. The men’s jeans feature a deep watch pocket, flat rivets to prevent scratching and two additional belt loops for security. The Cowboy Cut 0936 offers a more modern and slimmer take on the western style, geared toward younger consumers. The jeans are available exclusively on Wrangler’s website, with details about each garment’s condition listed in the product description. Retail prices span $49-$296 and more drops are planned. Wrangler
Teen specialty retailer Pacsun is adding a new layer to its circularly strategy as well with Pre-Loved Pac, a 360-resale program powered by ThredUp’s Resale-as-a-Service (RaaS) platform that allows Pacsun customers to clean out their closets for store credit and shop pre-loved clothing directly through the brand’s website. Denim brands and retailers like Madewell and NYDJ have launched similar resale and takeback programs with Thredup. Madewell recently enhanced its program by offering “clean out kits” for customers to mail in unwanted women’s clothing, handbags, footwear and accessories. “Pacsun understands its customers on a deeper level than most brands I’ve worked with. Incorporating resale into its business made sense for multiple reasons, but mostly because it delivers a service that its customers are already tapping into,” said James Reinhart, ThredUp CEO. “With Pacsun’s Gen Z customer-base, resale is not only an ideal fit for the company’s demographic but it is also an untapped growth channel for the business.” All elements encourage customers to rotate their wardrobe sustainably, buy secondhand and receive credit to repeat the process, the company stated. Through Pre-Loved Pac, shoppers can scoop up pre-owned items from Pacsun branded jeans and swimsuits, and tops, bottoms and dresses from LA Hearts, Playboy, PS Basics and PS/LA labels. The pre-owned garments retail for up to 90 percent off estimated retail price. Consumers can also request a clean out kit on Pacsun’s website or print a free shipping label to use on any box. After sending in their gently used women’s and kids’ items from any brand, consumers can earn Pacsun credit for eligible items that sell in the listing window. The rest of the garments will be reused or recycled. Consumers can also opt to have unlisted items returned. “Our community already embraced sustainable fashion, and we wanted to incorporate that into our brand experience,” said Mimi Ruiz, Pacsun’s VP of ecommerce. Pacsun’s foray into resale follows the launch of PacDenim For A Better Tomorrow, an in-store recycling and incentive program. It launched last fall with five locations home to dedicated denim recycling bins. There, customers who drop off used denim made with at least 90 percent cotton or greater at the bins will receive $10 off their next purchase of Pacsun Denim at a Pacsun retail location. In regions where drop bins are not available, consumers have the option to return denim directly to store associates at the registers at any Pacsun store.
RETAIL Big Surf Cyber Café in Birmingham, Mich. in 1995
ONLINE ORIGINS From risky to essential, e-commerce has been built on a bedrock of trust and convenience. w o r d s _____CHUCK DOBROSIELSKI
RETAIL Though the ideas and technologies behind e-commerce developed over the span of decades, Cornell University’s Louis Hyman traces the industry’s genesis the sale of a single CD by British rocker Sting. A historian of work and business at Cornell’s ILR School, Hyman teamed with PayPal in 2019 to create the podcast series “History of E-commerce.” In the first of eight episodes, the professor recounted the story of three Swarthmore, Penn. friends, who, upon graduation, set out to securely sell a product over the web. After first overcoming the technical challenge of safely transmitting a credit card number over the internet, the graduates then had to convince a business to trust them. Eventually, they persuaded a New Hampshire CD shop to use their site to sell its goods. On Aug. 11, 1994, a customer placed an order for Sting’s “Ten Summoner’s Tales.” “It's hard to remember now that... it's so seamless, so safe, you pick up your phone, you buy something while you’re watching TV, you don't even pay attention,” Hyman said. “But it was a pretty daunting prospect to buy something in this new way, something that you had never seen, right? You're going to send them money and you just hoped it would arrive.” In those early days—Jeff Bezos founded what would become Amazon a month before the Sting CD sale, Pierre Omidyar launched eBay the following year and Peter Thiel, Luke Nosek and Max Levchin introduced PayPal in 1999—e-commerce’s focus was to establish trusted intermediaries, Hyman said. “Of course, technology is an important part of the story,” he said. “But it’s really about creating secure middlemen. In a lot of ways, that’s what platforms are, right? They’re like trusted middlemen, whether for the exchange of goods or the exchange of money. And e-commerce is really about this sort of rise of trusted platforms.”
THE RISE OF E-COMMERCE Though eBay offered a platform where early internet users could sell their old clothes— Hyman recalled personally turning to the site to clean out his closet in the early 2000s—the professor called Zappos “the real breakthrough company” in apparel. Founded in 1999, the online shoe and apparel retailer rose to prominence during the 2000s. In 2008, the year before its acquisition by Amazon, it recorded $635 million in net revenue. “Zappos really was telling people they could shop for shoes, which normally you had to try on,” Hyman said. “That just changed the story around. And then it really branched out into many kinds of apparel companies and people looked to Zappos to think about how to do that kind of business.”
Different countries and regions ultimately followed their own unique paths and trajectories. In China, for example, the SARS outbreak jumpstarted the e-commerce industry in 2002 and 2003. In East Africa, on the other hand, consumers only really began engaging with online shopping with the dawn of mobile payments. In the U.S., Hyman said, something “switched” with the rise of smart phones. “People begin to rely on their smartphones to do a lot of shopping and reading and everything else,” he said. “[You] see the shift from the openness of early e-commerce, which is varied
“Of course, technology is an important part of the story. But it’s really about creating secure middlemen.” —LOUIS HYMAN, CORNELL UNIVERSITY
across many different websites and platforms and everything, to really being concentrated down to a series of easy-to-use apps. And that's really when Amazon really accelerates its transformation in e-commerce.” Then, of course, came Covid. Apparel e-commerce, in particular, “really accelerated” in the past two years, Hyman said. While he acknowledged that goods that require a lot of customization will likely continue to flourish in brick-and-mortar, the historian said “it's hard to imagine” why a consumer would return to physical stores for more generic clothes. As the CEO and co-founder of True Classic— an e-commerce brand focused on selling “packs” of plain tees—Ryan Bartlett lives in this generic space. When the pandemic began in the spring of 2020, he said his company probably saw about a 20 percent increase in revenue “almost overnight.” “I saw a lot of other people that I'm friends with just completely fall off the map because a lot of them are in either the luxury space, or they're in that space where you're really only spending money if you have extra disposable income,” Bartlett said. “As it relates to Covid, it was a blessing for us and it just got better and it just kind of never got any worse and it just stayed better from then on out.”
Ultimately, Hyman estimated that the pandemic condensed shifts that otherwise would have taken a decade into a one-year timeframe. For those consumers who spent the past two years without entering a retail store, Hyman said, “there is no going back.”
GLOBAL OUTLOOK Earlier this year, ShipBob, a logistics company catering to small- to midsize e-commerce businesses, released its first annual “Ecommerce Fulfillment Report.” One of the major trends the company saw was that the cost of customer acquisition on channels like Facebook and Instagram had “skyrocketed,” CEO Dhruv Saxena said. Accordingly, brands have explored new ways to build loyalty with the customers they already have. One way they’re doing this, Saxena said, is through custom packaging. If a company claims to be eco-friendly, for example, the box that appears on the customer’s doorstep should be consistent with those brand values. Saxena also cited the rising cost of acquisition as a driving force behind another trend ShipBob is seeing: a push to expand internationally. As the direct-to-consumer business surged during Covid, companies focused on facilitating international expansion also flourished, he said. “That equation has completely changed because now there are so many tools that make it super simple for a brand to expand internationally very early in the lifecycle,” Saxena said. Companies have popped up entirely dedicated to helping brands register in Europe, the U.K and Canada, he said. On Facebook and Instagram, self-serve marketing tools allow businesses to market to specific geographies “almost instantly without requiring any incremental help,” he added. ShipBob, for its part, helps brands place inventory in local markets. “Brands no longer, I think, identify with, ‘I'm a U.S. brand,’ ‘I'm a U.K. brand,’” Saxena said. “I think they identify with ‘Who is my customer?’ ‘I'm a millennial, Gen Z sort of a brand’ … And so that audience for that niche, whichever one you choose, is diverse across the globe. Thanks to tools like Instagram, Facebook, etc., you can identify that audience and not have to filter based on country.” True Classic, which is itself considering an expansion into Canada, hasn’t yet given up on acquiring new customers at home. In fact, Bartlett said the brand is investing “heavily” in customer acquisition. “We invest so much that we basically spend more on acquisition than probably like seven to eight of our competitors combined on a daily basis,” he boasted. “An absolute ton” of that spending goes into Facebook and Instagram, followed by Google, TikTok, podcasts and mailers, Bartlett said. Beyond that, the company primarily focuses on 21
social media. “It has to really make people laugh, it has to really be engaging, or you're just going to be another cool guy ad,” he noted. The company also employs someone who is fully dedicated to social outreach—reaching out to influencers, sending them product and coordinating content. Bartlett acknowledged the massive shift that occurred last year when the iOS 14.5 update allowed iPhone users to opt out of data collection and tracking. “That affected a lot of people,” he noted. True Classic, however, fared better than most, according to Bartlett. “Luckily, we're in a big enough field and our product is generic enough to where it applies to literally everybody,” he said. “It definitely affected us,” Bartlett admitted. “I would say not as much as other people. We're an anomaly compared to everyone else we've talked to. Some companies have gone out of business because of it, it's gotten that bad.”
DIGITAL PLAYBOOK Hyman’s “History of E-commerce” podcast may be nearly two and a half years old, but the professor is hard at work on a follow-up book with the same team. One thing he and his collaborators “constantly” talk about, he said, is “how amazing it is that even after e-commerce exploded after SARS in China, they still continued to build malls.” “I think part of it is this question of like the social connection around e-commerce and shopping and certainly there are new kinds of social shopping apps that are in China that really haven't come to the West yet,” Hyman said. “It’ll 22
be interesting to see what it's like when people begin to shop together online…. We have influencers obviously, but the sort of idea of you and your friends getting together and shopping is something that hasn't really worked yet. But I think that's probably the next step for retail.” Toby Zhang spent six years running a venture capital firm, investing in a range of businesses— including the TikTok predecessor Musical.ly. In 2020, however, he founded his own company, the social livestream shopping platform Shop LIT Live. An active investor in both the U.S. and China at the time, Zhang said he began seeing the early evidence of social shopping in 2015. Unlike their American counterparts, many Chinese brands did not start out by building their own website. Instead, they developed their presence on large marketplace platforms where they did not have to spend a lot of money acquiring customers and traffic, Zhang said. In the mid-2010s, he began seeing innovations on these marketplaces as brands looked to make their content “more fun for shoppers.” These experiments eventually produced what is now recognized as livestream shopping. “It makes it really sort of fun and entertaining for shoppers to come together in a synchronous setting,” Zhang said. “Part of social shopping was also to get these brands and customers to actually sort of interact with each other more,” he added. “Rather than having customers looking at beautiful pictures and text and just buy from them, now
there's that feedback loop. They can ask brands questions, they can interact with brands and brands can respond to them much quicker, more interactive, more social.” According to Zhang, apparel is “very easily demoed” on a livestream. Unlike a static e-commerce listing, the video allows the model or seller to highlight the piece’s pockets or other features, where it fits a bit larger or a bit tighter and what might pair well with it. “It's almost like a sort of real-time advisor,” Zhang said. Looking ahead, he predicted there will be two early winners in the livestream space. Naturally, he highlighted smaller players like himself, who he said can offer unique experiences and engage with users via an internal loyalty point or reward system. On the other end of the spectrum, Zhang predicted giants like Amazon, TikTok and Instagram—platforms with millions to billions of existing users—will dominate the near future. Along a similar vein, Hyman hypothesized that online platforms like Netflix will have the opportunity to integrate retail directly into their content such that a viewer could select a dress worn by a character on a show and buy it right then and there. “I think that's what we're going to see over the next few years,” Hyman said. “Right now, Netflix is desperate for revenue and they’re like, ‘We need to have ads,’” he continued. “Well, that's so 20th century. What they need to have is a way for me to buy the things I see on the screen, and to monetize every single image that is on the screen. And when that happens, it's going to unlock a lot of advertising value.”
ANTHONY BEHAR/SIPA USA
Consumers quickly adapted to buying everything from clothes to groceries online during the pandemic.
Just like a great orchestra, using coherently different tools and techniques we have curated a rich, full, sumptuous, and well blended sustainable denim collection. Through this symphony we introduce you to the world of sustainable fashion. This is the perfect prelude in our journey to making fashion sustainable through our products and innovation.
NEW YORK | JULY 20-21 | AW 23/24
PAYMENT POWER Are pay-by-installment plans behind denim’s resurgence? w o r d s _____KATE NISHIMURA
RETAIL The e-commerce explosion shows no signs
of slowing, even in a post-pandemic retail landscape. Consumers developed new shopping habits over the course of the past two years that prioritize flexibility and convenience, and these shifts in behavior stand to stick, experts say. 2021 also saw an uptick in the adoption of pay-by-installment plans, which allow consumers to finance web-based transactions and pay for them over time. Some 30 percent of U.S. buyers surveyed by McKinsey for the firm’s 2021 Digital Payments Consumer Survey, released in October, said they had used buy now, pay later (BNPL) services to make a purchase—a three-point increase from 2020. Brands and retailers are now increasingly adopting platforms like Klarna, Afterpay, Affirm and Zip, sometimes forming partnerships with more than one to serve shoppers more choices. The trend toward BNPL is changing purchasing patterns, McKinsey data showed— namely, by giving consumers the confidence to shell out. Twenty-nine percent of survey respondents who had utilized such platforms said they would have removed items from their cart or abandoned a purchase altogether had BNPL not been available. Nearly two-fifths (39 percent) said they favored BNPL over the use of a credit card, and 31 percent said they preferred the online finance plans to using debit cards or cash. Apparel and beauty have benefitted in a big way, seeing higher incremental conversion rates than other discretionary spending categories. Up to 20 percent of respondents who bought clothes or cosmetics said some of their purchases would not have taken place without BNPL. “We continue to see consistent growth in apparel, with fashion leading the majority of spend from young Americans,” said Claudia Rossi, Afterpay insights director. Gen Z and millennials drove category growth by more than 90 percent year-over-year in the fourth quarter of 2021. And after seasons on the shelf, denim is seeing a resurgence. “As the world reopens up again and consumers look to get out of their athleisure clothing, there’s a renewed interest in denim products and retailers are trying to meet that demand,” she said. Afterpay counts several prominent denim players as clients, including Levi’s, Paige and Re/ Done. “Over the past year, we’ve partnered with several key denim brands including American Eagle, Madewell and J.Crew,” she added, noting that brands have generally reported seeing higher average order values, a greater number of items per transaction, and higher conversion rates after adopting the service. Levi’s, True Religion and Cotton On ranked among Afterpay’s top 25 most popular brands, across all categories, in mid-May. Fashion retailers across the board are cashing in on the denim craze. Since January, Afterpay has seen an 80 percent spike in web-based brands and retailers selling denim, which Rossi attributes
Afterpay reports consistent growth in apparel
to several culture-wide shifts. Social events are resuming en masse, from parties to weekend outings and live music festivals. Leading into Coachella weekend in mid-April, Afterpay saw denim shorts sales increase by 23 percent from the same period the year prior. “In addition, there’s been a greater acceptance for more relaxed workwear due to the new hybrid work environment consumers have gotten used to,” she added. Comfort still reigns supreme, and jeans have replaced tailored trousers across many workplaces. But fashion is no longer taking a backseat, as it did during the pandemic. According to Rossi, a multitude of denim styles are seeing ballooning interest from consumers this spring. Sales of stretchy, distressed curvy “mom jeans” grew by 218 percent from 2021, while high-waisted skinny kick flares saw 468 percent growth. Relaxed fit, ’90s-inspired boyfriend shorts saw the greatest sales increase of any denim category, up 491 percent. Data from London e-commerce intelligence firm Edited confirms the denim market has rebounded from the pandemic. Market analyst Kayla Marci said its rise has been “driven by nostalgia-fueled trends and customers looking
to offset the year spent in sweats.” Denim sales since the beginning of 2022 have returned to pre-Covid levels in both the U.S. and the U.K., she added, seeing growth of 129 percent compared to spring of 2020. “Across women’s wear, straight fit was the preferred denim option in both regions” throughout 2021, Edited womenswear analyst Avery Faigen added. The silhouette made up more than one-fifth of all new styles at retail, and 24 percent of sellouts in both the U.S. and the U.K. Wide-legs and boot-cuts represent “exaggerated iterations of the straight fit,” she said, and both proved successful, making up a combined 21 percent of sold-out pieces across both markets. Payment solution platform Klarna has seen “a resurgence of ’80s denim trends among consumers here in the U.S.,” according to the company’s head of U.S. partner success, Raji Behal. Throughout the first four months of 2022, Klarna has also seen notable growth across denim tops, especially button-down shirts, up 490 percent from the same period in 2021. “We’re in the midst of a major shift happening among consumers” who are increasingly shirking credit cards for flexible payment options, she said. According to the company’s research, 90
Klarna's virtual shopping tool
percent of U.S. shoppers find it useful to be able to split payments into equal parts over time without incurring fees or interest, as they would if they bought their denim on credit. In fact, 48 percent of shoppers prefer BNPL to credit cards in 2022. “It’s these evolving consumer expectations that are accelerating demand for Klarna among brands within the denim category,” Behal added. “We’ve seen denim sales through Klarna increase tenfold—up 987 percent since 2019,” she noted, mirroring similar upward trends across the apparel space. “Expectations for better-value payment options at checkout are category agnostic,” she said, but denim brands are generating strong interest with shoppers. Klarna is intent on building out its flexible payment capabilities for use in the realm of physical retail. “Demand for flexible payments is not exclusive to just the online experience— shoppers want a seamless shopping journey across all channels,” Rehal said. As the pandemic’s influence recedes and shoppers flock to stores and shopping centers, the company and its partners see high potential for BNPL taking brick-and-mortar by storm. During 2021, brickand-mortar transactions accounted for nearly 80 percent of purchases globally. Retailers like Bloomingdale’s, H&M and Guess are among the early adopters of Klarna’s in-store pay-in-installment option. Consumers can download the Klarna app ahead of their shopping trip, choose the retailer they wish to shop with from a drop-down list, and create a one-time-use digital card for their Google and Apple wallet. That card can be used at checkout, and subsequent payments are managed through the app. Just as the company is seeing the adoption of Klarna’s payment solutions accelerate among e-commerce retailers, “our 26
physical footprint is also growing rapidly and now includes nearly 80,000 brands worldwide,” Rehal said—and denim stands to lead the way. In May, Klarna brands gained yet another digital avenue for reaching consumers. The platform launched a virtual shopping tool designed to give mobile device users access to physical stores and the personalized service they provide. Using the Klarna app, shoppers are connected directly with experts and stylists at their favorite stores, who dispense real-time product recommendations, sizing advice and more. Store associates can offer expertise and guidance using photos, videos, live chat or video calls that allow them to demonstrate a product directly from the store floor. The launch builds upon the company’s acquisition of social shopping platform Hero last year, Klarna said. The company’s consumer research showed that 78 percent of U.S. shoppers believe their favorite online stores need to invest in new tech to facilitate personalized services— and brands are lining up for a chance to reach shoppers at their fingertips. The virtual shopping tool launched with 300 brands across 18 markets, including denim players like Levi’s and Hugo Boss. Available now across North America and Europe, Klarna expected to extend the service globally throughout 2022. “With Virtual Shopping, we replicate the brick-and-mortar experience of receiving personalized advice from an in-store expert and bring it to the online realm,” chief marketing officer David Sandström said. What’s more, brands and retailers that enable virtual shopping will have access to valuable and instructive data about shopper interactions and sales, he added. “This will empower our partnered retailers around the world to bring their online stores to life and build customer relationships that last.”
CLIENT ROSTER A who’s who of the jeans market have engaged with BNPL providers, adopting their services to allow shoppers to finance purchases with flexibility. KLARNA: Good American, Buffalo, Hudson, Joe’s Jeans, AG Jeans, APC, Abercrombie & Fitch, Calvin Klein, Levi’s, Tommy Hilfiger, DL1961, H&M, Lee, Guess, Lucky Brand, Wrangler, Zadig & Voltaire, Rag & Bone AFTERPAY: Levi’s, 7 for All Mankind, NYDJ, Paige, Mavi Jeans, Blank NYC, Etica, CQY Denim, Gap, Old Navy, Re/Done, Madewell, True Religion, Free People, Urban Outfitters, Current Elliott, Hiroshi Kato, Cotton On AFFIRM: American Eagle, Tommy Hilfiger, Theory, Anine Bing, Everlane, Vince, Sene, Guess, Levi’s, Urban Outfitters ZIP (FORMERLY QUADPAY): Levi’s, Everlane, J.Crew, Rag & Bone, AllSaints, Citizens of Humanity, Paige, AYR, Madewell, Joe’s Jeans, Re/Done
A D V E R T O R I A L
CORDURA® Advanced Fabrics Challenge the Throwaway Mentality With a consumer embracing durability, sustainability and workwear fashion, CORDURA® Advanced Fabrics is perfectly positioned to address all three. Here, Cindy McNaull, CORDURA® brand business development director, breaks down the company’s main advantages. Rivet: Durability has always been a signature of CORDURA® branded fabric. How can your partner brands better utilize and promote durability as a path to sustainability? Cindy McNaull: Ingredient branded fibers such as CORDURA® can serve as anchor points that provide tried and proven performance for brand partners and customers. According to The Robin Report’s “Gen Z Doesn’t Want Retailers’ Platitudes” article, Gen Z consumers seek brand authenticity and trust. CORDURA® Denim Fabric is proven to be at least four times more durable than traditional 100 percent cotton equivalents and has found a firm fan-base as the comfortable, durable option for skateboarders, climbers, cycle commuters, workers, motorcyclists and everyday living. At CORDURA® Advanced Fabrics, we believe function-oriented design will stand the test of time, and we provide versatile, long-lasting solutions that help minimize waste and reduce water and energy consumption. With 55 years delivering durable, reliable and trusted solutions, we put our fabrics through rigorous laboratory testing and certification screenings. The CORDURA® brand ethos is Sustainability Begins With Products That Last™ and our extensive CORDURA® Advanced Fabrics portfolio is designed to challenge the throwaway mentality within the textile industry.
Tell us about the CORDURA® Advanced Fabrics partnership with Dovetail Workwear geared to ranch workers? C.M.: This March, Dovetail Workwear launched its DX Ranch collection featuring CORDURA® Denim Fabric and CORDURA® NYCO Fabric. Built for working the land, but equally at home in the city, this product meets at the crossroads of rugged performance and style. Influenced by the hardworking women of the DX Ranch—a fourth generation ranch on South Dakota’s Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation—this collaboration informed and inspired the collection’s function and designs, including the pinnacle DX Bootcut pant. Adhering to Dovetail’s commitment to minimize environmental impact while raising the bar on socially and sustainably responsible standards through the UN Global Compact pact, the CORDURA® Denim Fabric in Indigo is milled in Pakistan by Artistic Milliners, recipient of the UN’s highest award for sustainability, while the CORDURA® NYCO Fabric in Dark Kodiak Canvas is sustainably made by Freedom Denim in China. How is CORDURA® Advanced Fabrics helping partner brands target new lifestyle changes? C.M.: More important than ever, durability and reliability represent a significant shift in purchasing attitude. We also see the crossover lifestyle trend whereby consumers seek multipurpose products to wear for work, leisure and travel pursuits. Our brand partners (i.e., Dovetail, Levi’s), and mill partners (i.e., Artistic Milliners, Freedom Denim, Nishat, Kipas and Sapphire Finishing Mills Ltd.) have done a great job of designing into these evolving consumer needs through development of innovative CORDURA® Denim Fabric and CORDURA® NYCO Fabric solutions. The recent CORDURA® Advanced Fabrics capsule collection launched by Sapphire Finishing Mills Ltd. at Kingpins Amsterdam this April fuses heritage and modernity for today’s urban living and crossover lifestyles. CORDURA® Advanced Fabrics recently celebrated its Decade of Denim. What are you planning for the next decade? C.M.: For the past decade we have explored, engineered, created and challenged the denim world to “push performance” and “Demand More From What You Wear.” The future of innovation is collaboration, whether that’s with a designer, brand partner or our community of textile supply chain partners like Artistic Milliners and Lenzing. Teaming up with industry powerhouses is a gateway to forward-thinking design and the fusion of performance technologies in the apparel of tomorrow. The launch of CORDURA® Denim Fabric was first made possible in conjunction with our long-standing authorized mill partner, Artistic Milliners. “We are proud to have partnered with CORDURA® Advanced Fabrics to pioneer the world of performance denim," said Omer Ahmed, CEO, Artistic Milliners. "Together over the last decade we have pushed the boundaries of denim creativity and transformative change. We are designing for durability, creating jeans that feel great and can be used in many situations and conditions from office to street to outdoor—one jean created for a lifetime.”
“The future of innovation is collaboration.”
ME TAV ERSE TK
Remi Bader for Abercrombie & Fitch
Gap's viral hoodie
After the social commerce boom of 2021, brands are tapping into a new realm of retail with a hyperfocused audience. w o r d s _____LIZ WARREN
The earliest adopters of Instagram in
2010 may never have predicted that the social platform—which at the time was nothing more than a photo-sharing app with nearly nonexistent editing capabilities—would develop into a commerce haven. A consumer survey from marketing platform HubSpot found that 24.5 percent of social media users purchased an item through Instagram, beating out other platforms like WhatsApp and Pinterest. The platform’s parent company, Meta, earned the top spot at 36 percent. Since then, social commerce tools were developed for other platforms such as Snapchat, Twitter and, Gen Z’s favorite, TikTok, signifying a shift in the way brands engage with a captive audience. Driving this force was a universal evolution to the online world. Like most industries, retail and e-commerce were deeply impacted when consumers, trapped inside their homes during the pandemic, logged onto their devices to get their shopping fix. In a 2021 report on the future of big box retailers such as Walmart and Target, Evy Lyons, vice president of marketing at influencer marketing technology platform Traackr, predicted that social commerce would take over quite rapidly because of the state of the world. “Over the past year, social commerce has become a shiny new channel that brands are beginning to tap into, especially in fashion, and I’d expect this to continue to grow as a key retail strategy,” she said at the time, when Traackr data showed a 27 percent increase in the number of influencers posting about social
commerce in 2020 versus 2019, including direct calls to action in this content. Today, experts are continuing to bet big on the retail method, with a new report from research firm Grand View Research indicating that the global social commerce market was worth $584.91 billion in 2021, and is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 30.8 percent from 2022 to 2030. The report went on to say that easy access to social media networking sites, along with a “high level of impulse buying” among millennial and Gen Z cohorts, has made social commerce a prime strategy for tapping into these consumers.
In 2021, Gap singlehandedly demonstrated social media’s effect on sales. Content creator Barbara Kristoffersen posted a TikTok showcasing some of her favorite outfits, including one with Gap’s brown logo hoodie—a now-vintage style that originally debuted for boys and babies in 1995. The post immediately went viral and incited a major spike in Google searches for “brown Gap hoodie.” To optimize the sudden spotlight, the brand dropped a limited-edition release of the hoodie, and introduced the “Gap Hoodie Color Comeback” competition on TikTok letting customers select the next colorway. The phenomenon served as a case study for brands looking to harness the power of social media, and for social media platforms
looking to provide a more seamless purchasing experience for users. Meta introduced Live Shopping Fridays last year allowing brands to sell products and services through live video streams and demos. Through the feature, consumers can connect with the brands and ask questions in real-time and enjoy a streamlined checkout process using the platform’s “Shops” feature when they’re ready to purchase. Also in 2021, TikTok introduced TikTok Shopping for Shopify merchants across the U.S. and U.K., and select sellers in Canada. Shopify merchants with a TikTok For Business account are able to add a shopping tab to their TikTok profiles, which users can sync to their product catalogs to create a mini-storefront that links directly to their online store for checkout. They can choose to either shop directly from the merchant’s storefront or click a tagged product in a merchant’s TikTok video. That same year, Twitter unveiled Shop Module, its first commerce attempt since 2014 which it shut down just three years later. Shop Module, currently still in a pilot mode, sits in a dedicated space at the top of a business’ profile and offers a scrollable carousel of products, each of which can be bought in an in-app browser. In March 2022, the social platform 29
VALIDATING VOICES expanded upon the initiative and introduced Twitter Shops, a feature that allows merchants to curate a collection of up to 50 products to showcase on their Twitter profile. Users can organically and seamlessly progress through the conversion process, from talking about products on Twitter’s platform to browsing products to making a purchase. E-commerce behemoth Amazon is also getting in on the mix. In April 2022, the company acquired Indian startup GlowRoad to spearhead its social commerce investment, which reportedly helps more than 6 million resellers in India earn a monthly average of 35,000 Indian rupees ($460). GlowRoad’s business is focused on resellers such as temporary workers, unemployed people or students who are looking to earn income by working at home. It allows suppliers to sell products to consumers through these resellers
Abercrombie & Fitch
across 2,000 cities. From there, consumers can resell products—which are typically purchased at wholesale prices—on Facebook and WhatsApp. GlowRoad also provides them with a logistics network to deliver the products and collect the cash.
“Influencer marketing, particularly set against the backdrop of a pandemic and the complex state of society today, is a wonderful tool for sales, awareness and simply communicating who you are as a brand,” said Carey Krug, Abercrombie & Fitch senior vice president and head of marketing. The company, which is reestablishing its business with millennials and Gen Z consumers, looks to several social commerce methods, but focuses heavily on TikTok and Instagram. “More than anything, though, social media and influencer marketing allows us to continue to foster the close connections with our customers that we value so much,” she said. Brands tapping into the social commerce space can provide a more personalized and custom experience by turning to influencers and joining popular conversations. Abercrombie & Fitch’s Denim Your Way campaign was rolled out in August 2021 across multiple platforms. Described as an “ode to the brand’s commitment to denim comfort and fit,” the brand utilized “the power of affiliates, the power of hauls and fit highlight videos and the magnetism of creative brand expression content on TikTok,” Krug said. The campaign included social media components across multiple platforms, digital advertising, and in-store marketing components. It was a holistic campaign shot on models sourced from a talent search the Abercrombie posted on its social channels in January 2021. The final cast was made up of reallife customers and brand fans, including several social media personalities and influencers, who created content highlighting Abercrombie’s new size range, fits, styles and more. “It’s one thing for a brand to say who they are, but it’s another for customers to see a brand visualized through the unique creative lenses of others,” Krug said. “We already know that connection is formed through authenticity and honesty, and influencers have uniquely vulnerable relationships with their audiences that make those connections incredibly close and trustworthy. We’re proud to be a leader in the world of social commerce, and we’ll continue to invest and innovate in the channel.”
While conversions in the traditional sense are centered on purchases, some social strategies are deployed to encourage a different kind of end goal. For Turkish denim brand Mavi, it all depends on the campaign. The brand’s social media manager Eltie Pearce said its Earth Month campaign in April, which centered on sustainability education, was assigned a brand awareness goal. Therefore, success in that campaign was measured by reach, shares and engagement. Mavi works with influencer platform Grin, an all-in-one creator management platform that helps companies build more valuable brands through the power of creator partnerships. Through Grin, Mavi can email creators, send them products and provide affiliate codes and content. Pearce called out the platform’s reporting capabilities as being especially beneficial, as it helps guide content and influencer selection. The reports track and attribute sales, revenue, costs and ROI. Other platforms like Upfluence highlight the benefits of finding the right troupe of creators. Upfluence offers more than 20 advanced search filters so brands can find the perfect influencers for their brand. The platform works with 825,000 fashion influencers with an estimated reach of 114 billion, and 122,000 denim influencers with an estimated reach of 18 billion. “Denim brands, like all brands, need to be sure they can find influencers that are relevant to their industry niche,” said a spokesperson for the platform. “They should look for influencer platforms that offer powerful search tools that allow them to filter their creator search according to keywords, engagement rate, location, age and gender etc.” “Influencers directly affect purchase decisions, so we see value in working with ones that are the best fit for our brand,” Pearce said, adding that social commerce’s efficacy lies in one main area: authenticity. Mavi also uses social commerce to drive sales, and to send offers to “warm leads” using automated private messages on social media. Paid social ads showcase its current collections and link directly to its website. “Influencers spend time building trust with their followers,” Pearce said. “When we work with influencers that share our values and love our product, our brand message is amplified in an authentic and aspirational way. Our aim is to become a brand of choice with our target audience and working with influencers they are already following helps us to stay relevant.” —LW
Raw Materials are the Starting Point for Sustainable Jeans The denim industry is on a quest to make the lowest impact jean possible, and the key to reaching this goal is choosing the right materials. TENCEL™ Lyocell is made from renewable wood pulp using a low-impact process, giving jeans a stronger environmental profile. For insight on how TENCEL™ fibers make denim more sustainable, Rivet spoke with Michael Kininmonth, denim project manager at Lenzing. Rivet: Among Lenzing’s latest innovations is matte TENCEL™. What product development opportunities do these fibers hold? Michael Kininmonth: The phrase “you can’t please all of the people all of the time” certainly applies to fabric aesthetics. Any fiber with a smooth surface and round cross section, like TENCEL™ Lyocell, will result in fabrics exhibiting more luster—that is just physics. Where luster is a desirable optic, then the brief is met. For designers looking to avoid shininess, we have developed a matte version of TENCEL™ Lyocell. Another recent launch is TENCEL™ Modal with Indigo Color technology. What does this mean for denim? M.K.: The denim industry’s three main environmental concerns have been fibers, dyeing and finishing, and laundry. In the last decade, there has been a significant environmental evolution in both fibers and laundry technology. However, indigo dyeing has been challenging, and real progress on a mass scale remains elusive in both manufacturing and applying indigo dye. An estimated 70,000 tons of indigo goes to market every year, creating a pressing need for improvements. Fixing an oxidized form of the indigo pigment in the structure of the fiber eliminates the need for conventional indigo dyeing. Average resource savings compared to conventional dyeing are 99 percent water, 80 percent chemicals, 99 percent electricity, 99 percent wastewater and 100 percent heat energy. Which current denim trends or styles are best suited for TENCEL™? M.K.: From its launch 30 years ago, TENCEL™ Lyocell’s unique selling point has always been responsible production. Combining TENCEL™ Lyocell into blends can enhance any environmental story of your choice. TENCEL™ is strongly associated with softness, fluidity and next-to-skin comfort. However, our last two Sustainable Denim Wardrobe projects—Hardwear and Bast Recast—demonstrated how TENCEL™ fibers work with cotton and/or hemp to produce totally authentic jeanswear products.
A D V E R T O R I A L
How closely are consumers investigating the material content in their denim? What are they looking for? M.K.: Educating consumers remains a major challenge for the whole industry—from fiber to brands. According to McKinsey & Company’s post Covid-19 consumer survey, two-thirds of fashion consumers say sustainability has been more important to them since the start of the crisis, and a similar proportion would boycott a brand that fails to do its part in protecting the planet. The survey showed the urgency for more sustainable fashion is particularly pressing among younger consumers; over 90 percent of Gen Z consumers say companies have a responsibility to protect the environment and make a positive social impact. Many of these consumers want their fashion decisions to reflect their values, including embracing priorities such as secondhand, recycling and repair. A Lenzing survey* concluded that “transparency” is key for brands to win consumer trust and confidence, paving the way for greater transparency and collaboration in the industry supply chain. Global consumers responded favorably to terms like “biodegradable”, “natural” and “recyclable” and were more likely to buy products containing these claims. When purchasing clothing and home textile products, over 70 percent of surveyed consumers stated they would actively educate themselves on sustainability through researching the production process and over 85 percent tended to read product label hangtags.
“From its launch 30 years ago, TENCEL™ Lyocell’s unique selling point has always been responsible production.”
* Global Consumer Perception Survey on Sustainable Raw Materials in Fashion and Home Textile, 2020
ME TAV ERSE TK
N E W R U L E S With sustainability and e-commerce on the rise, Andreas Kurz, Akari Enterprises founder, consultant and denim guru, shares how the current denim boom is unlike any other. w o r d s _____VICKI M. YOUNG
New fits and trends have led to a “moment in the sun” for jeans at retail, and men’s wear expert Andreas Kurz, who also is known for his business acumen in the denim market, is keen on sharing his thoughts on denim then, now and in the future. In addition to 13 years at Hugo Boss, with the last three as president and CEO of Hugo Boss USA, Kurz is also the former president of licensing at Ralph Lauren Corp. Denim credentials comes from a stint as Diesel USA president and CEO from 2000 to 2004, and as the CEO of 7 For All Mankind from 2005 to 2006. Kurz founded Akari Enterprises in 2006, which advises firms on global business development, M&A and executive search. He continues to work with fashion firms, including those in the jeanswear market. Kurz is also a consultant for the World Fashion Exchange, a cloud-based PLM for the fashion industry, and Global-e, a provider of cross-border e-commerce services for brands that include ModCloth, Berluti, Desigual, Helmut Lang, Hugo Boss, Marc Jacobs, Monsoon, Perry Ellis, Reformation, The Kooples and Theory, to name a few.
Rivet: Even though denim has cycled through ups and downs, it doesn't seem to ever go away. What's so special about denim? Andreas Kurz: Denim is like a second skin and the sexiest garment after lingerie. Then there is the sheer fact that jeans are so durable and age gracefully with you. You have them for very long and they become a mirror of your experiences. It’s rebellious, forever young, tough and will never go away. Rivet: Premium denim was a market in which retail price points hit $200 and up. That has changed following the Great Recession in 2008. What shifted at retail and what do you think is the premium price point these days? AK: If you want a good fabric and wash you are still around that price point today. A pair of jeans needs 1.8 meters of fabric and the best fabrics from Italy and Japan are over $10 [per meter]. Since 2008 everyone had to tighten their belts to stay alive, manufacturing was moved to Mexico or Asia, and a lot of the washes are now done with laser technology that uses much less water. 33
Q&A Rivet: Which denim brands do you think are currently doing a good job—whether its washes, fabrications, product or how they merchandise their own stores? AK: Denham for styling and presentation; Reformation and Everlane for sustainability; Nudie for re-use; Frame for style and [developing a] cult following; Freitag because of their F-abric; G-Star Raw for combining rock ’n’ roll style with sustainability; Joe’s Jeans for their clear merchandising; Atelier & Repairs for re-purposing and individualization; Torrid for plus-size; Imogene + Willie for product and vibe; and Levi’s as it will always be the original.
Rivet: When you compare premium denim price points then and now, are consumers getting a better product because of technological innovations even at lower price points? AK: The most interesting developments for me are the efforts to use combinations with hemp, Tencel or special coatings which lets you use the jeans even longer without washing. This is not limited to premium denim brands anymore and has been adopted at all price levels. Rivet: Fashion is now in a major denim cycle. What are some of the washes, finishes and silhouettes that have resonated well with consumers? AK: Denim is coming back, but with a different face. The destroyed look is back, and bottoms tend to be wider and waistlines higher, but consumers are also focusing a lot on the sustainability aspects. We cannot be proud of our history in that regard and a lot has happened and must still happen. There is a denim cycle, but it will not be as pronounced as [before]. For example, in the early ’90s when the total [denim] market grew from $11 billion to $15 billion in the U.S., the share of premium denim went from 3 percent to 5 percent of the total market, or from $330 million to $750 million in a few years. We will not see the same kind of growth in this cycle. Rivet: We've seen how athleisure offerings resonated first with women, before men’s. Is that also true with denim when it comes to product lines and options? AK: Women adapt to changes first—and faster than men—when it comes to fashion. Men are generally slower to adapt, but then stick with a brand once they've found what they like. I think it will continue that way with women adopting new silhouettes and washes and men following, but the sustainability aspect [will be] key.
Rivet: There's been consolidation in the denim sector since 2008, but also a rise in digital native brands. What is your opinion about these newcomers? AK: Yes, back then we had more than 90 denim brands in Los Angeles alone and now there are a handful left which makes shopping in stores less exciting. Digital direct-to-consumer brands have made inroads, but one of the most important aspects of jeans is the fit. Providing jeans that fit perfectly has been a hurdle—and still is for pure DTC brands. There are new developments with 3D imaging software and apps where consumers can take their photo to see how a jean might fit, but there is nothing like trying a pair on and seeing yourself—especially your back side—in the mirror. Return rates are higher in denim than in other categories as consumers tend to buy three pairs in three different sizes and return two. To counteract that digitally native brands have opened physical stores. Shopping is still a social activity and it’s important for a brand to be present on all channels. I also think that brick-and-mortar retailers should not complain if customers use their stores to try on products and then to buy online. The fact that the consumers entered your store, touched, and tried on your product means a lot. You have a captive audience right there. Don’t let them walk out without having addressed them or offered something in addition to what they just tried on. Rivet: What is the global market size for premium denim? AK: It depends a lot on how you define premium denim
Rivet: What do you think brands should focus on in growing their market share at retail? AK: I think for every brand it is vital to be available when and where the customer looks for it: omnichannel. Most U.S. brands also still have a lot of untapped potential internationally. Whereas a typical European brand does over 50 percent of their total sales outside of their country, most U.S. brands don’t have more than 15 percent in international sales. There is still a major upside, both for opening stores (either themselves or with a distribution partner) or by working with a cross-border e-commerce provider like Global-e. Rivet: What role does marketing have the denim category? AK: In communication, it is key to be honest: don’t pretend to be sustainable if you can’t prove it. Vintage, authenticity, personalization and being straight with your customer are important in product, service and communication. Rivet: Where is the industry headed in terms of how it can become more sustainable? AK: We have done a lot of damage to the environment with cotton being the thirstiest crop, and with the washing and dyeing processes using huge amounts of water and chemicals that end up in the environment. Every brand that still wants to be around tomorrow needs to address these issues and great efforts are being made on all fronts, from cotton grown without pesticides, washes using fewer toxic chemicals, the use of laser technology, sustainable fibers and offering more raw denim fabrics so you can break them in yourself, as well as many other initiatives.
these days. The NPD Group used to define it as jeans retailing for over $150 and later they changed that to $100, so the statistics over time are not comparable. My guess is that of the approximately $60 billion global denim market, only 5 percent is premium, which would be $3 billion. In the U.S. the jeans market today is still the same size as it was back in 2017.
Rivet: What is your favorite pair of jeans brand, and why? AK: Citizens of Humanity, because they fit me the best and the fabric is soft as butter.
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Wiser Ways For Smarter Times Particularly among younger consumers, the denim industry is seeing heightened demand for sustainable and responsible products, especially with fabric selections and washes. To that end, Wiser Tech and its key stakeholders switched 50 percent of its denim production from virgin fibers to recycled fibers. Here, Fuat Gözaçan, chairman of Wiser Globe, Wiser Wash and Wiser Tech, discusses how the company is further differentiating itself with current technologies and innovations. Rivet: How has your team been dealing with supply chain constraints and delivery delays this past year? Fuat Gozacan: Honestly speaking, we believe the whole textile supply chain has collapsed after all the industry crises. We were affected like all the textile industry, but we had better action plans. Starting this year, we tripled fabric stocks in our warehouses so we could keep lead times and prices for our partner brands. We also expanded internal production lines to maintain capacities for our long-term partners. Basically, we are moving to a closer, more transparent partnership with our customers to avoid the extraordinary changes in our industry. Wiser has made a name for its denim bleaching and ozone use. How are you using technology, specifically artificial intelligence, to update this? F.G.: Wiser Tech developed the ozone bleaching machine WOX, upgrading our patented and awardwinning process used since 2017. Wiser Wash eliminates pumice stones and toxic chemicals such as hypochlorite and potassium permanganate, and saves a significant amount of water by using 200 ml water for the decolorization. The outcome remains gorgeous with bright contrasts. Wiser Tech has developed advanced technologies to take Wiser Wash's current potential one step further; WOX being the first of these technologies used in Wiser Wash facilities. Consisting of an ozone drum and ozone generator, WOX can identify and analyze its own needs thanks to its hardware technology and software algorithms running in the cloud. At the same time, it gathers production process data through a cloud-based program and inputs it into artificial intelligence algorithms. Since only company officials operating on confidentiality principles can access this, the process remains more traceable and efficient. How is the Wiser WOX system more sustainable for your customers? F.G.: The textile industry is the third-largest user of water globally, consuming around 79 billion cubic meters of water every year. On current trends, this will double by 2030. On the other hand, when a pair of jeans is washed with traditional methods, an average of 60 liters of water
is consumed. Wiser Wash can perform the same process by saving approximately 80 percent of water according to our LCA report with the help of WOX. More than 70 million liters of water have been saved so far and more is saved with every garment produced by Wiser Wash. We do not define WOX as an ozone machine, but rather a system that makes the ozone bleaching process smarter and traceable. WOX technology automatically follows the ozone machine’s status and detects any failures or malfunctions, allowing the company to identify issues and make improvements. Our system gets better every day with software that is constantly learning and evolving. WOX’s trump card is a 40 percent lower cycle duration, a 66 percent higher production capacity, better bleaching results, sustainable production. WOX also received the prestigious 2021 Good Design Awards. How does Wiser consider the eventual disposal of denim in its material choices and processes? F.G.: We aim to use our products for a much longer time. We care about producing quality products that consumers will enjoy for years, using much more sustainable methods such as Wiser Wash and WOX. We also develop products that are 100 percent recyclable and biodegradable, both from the fabric to the accessories used.
“Our system gets better every day with software that is constantly learning and evolving.”
RETAIL PULSE New stores are breathing life into the denim
retail landscape. AG, Frame and Madewell are among the industry-leading names to open new physical stores and retail concepts in the past year. Still Here, the New York City-based label known for its hand painted designs, opened its first brick-and-mortar location in
Denim stalwarts Fred Segal and Over the Rainbow share what’s hot and what’s not. w o r d s _____LIZ WARREN
SoHo. Rag & Bone teamed with Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue on thematic popups. Good American brought its size inclusive jeans to Zara’s masses in a Spring 2022 collaboration, and Diesel introduced a bold new look that matches its Glenn Martens-designed overall for its New York City flagship.
Long-established retailers are finding a new groove as well. Here, two denim retailers that have outlasted trends and overcome hurdles spanning e-commerce, activewear and covid, share how they’re riding denim’s new wave of movement by introducing newness to their sales floors.
SETTING THE BAR Fred Segal reclaims a piece of its history by relaunching Jean Bar. There was no better time for Los Angeles
stalwart Fred Segal to bring back its iconic Jean Bar than this year, when customers were eager to get back into their jeans after a pandemic rife with loungewear and leggings. First hitting the scene in 1965, the jeansfocused shop-in-shop (before they became the retail staple they are today) introduced consumers to premium denim at an equally premium price point: Jeans were offered for $19.95 at a time when the average pair went for just $3. So began the designer denim craze, attracting a following of A-list celebrities like Diana Ross, Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. In March 2022, the retailer reinstated the Jean Bar and equipped it with men’s and women’s denim brands that embody the ideals of today’s consumer, such as sustainability and inclusivity. The concept features a retro-modern display of denim with floor-to-ceiling wood shelving that nods to the concept’s original ’60s design. The new assortment includes some of the traditional fits that the retailer first launched with, such as the flares and bootcuts. It also features fits and washes representing different decades, including Y2k-era low-rise jeans. Labels include emerging and established brands, such as sizeinclusive, B Corp label Good American, denimturned-lifestyle brand Frame, sustainable brand Closed, upcycled trailblazers EB Denim and Re/ Done, and more. The company is currently eyeing up to six, 900-square foot stand-alone Jean Bar locations separate from Fred Segal stores in 2023. Eventually, it will have stand-alone locations in major cities across the country, beginning with New York and Miami, and plans to expand the concept internationally in the next few years. Fred Segal CEO Jeff Lotman caught up with Rivet regarding The Original Jean Bar that’s now in-store at its flagship location on L.A.’s Sunset Boulevard.
Rivet: Describe your store’s POV. Jeff Lotman: When we launched our Jean
Bar, the idea was to offer a holistic view of denim, not just a variety of well-known brands you can find in your everyday department store. We wanted to represent something deeper and more personal since this is a special part of our brand’s heritage. Part of that meant further defining what denim meant to Fred Segal today, landing on three major pillars that represent the core of our
Fred Segal Fred Segal
assortment: sustainability, inclusivity and supporting local and new design talent. This experience is intended to provide something different, where you can come into an inspiring space and try on different brands, fits and ideas that you may have never even heard of and leave with something tangible and memorable. This concept has attracted a wide variety of clientele, including customers who are new to our store and those that are solely looking to come and find a perfect pair of jeans. Rivet: What is your best-selling brand? JL: Some of our bestselling brands include Knorts, EB Denim, Jeanerica and Closed. Most of these collections offer a fluid approach to gender, reaching both a male and female audience. Rivet: What is your best-selling fit? JL: Since we launched this experience, our straight fits have been strongest, followed by the baggy silhouette. This in part seems like the demand for something more structured than a sweatpant, but still wanting a level of comfort. Rivet: Which styles are starting to slow down or fall out of fashion? JL: Like most of retail, we are seeing less demand for the skinny fit. Our clientele is looking for something less body-hugging and more spacious in their silhouettes. Rivet: What are some important qualities you look for in the brands you carry? JL: This really comes down to a unique POV that will separate their collection from others in the market or that we currently carry. Every brand we bring in serves to differentiate our
assortment through styling, fit, washes and overall design aesthetic. Rivet: If you had one request for denim brands, what would that be? JL: Don’t re-create the wheel when it comes to denim but try to find a niche or unique approach to what you are offering. What sets you apart from the next brand? Identifying who and what you want to be in a competitive market will help retailers better understand you. Rivet: What do you wish more consumers knew? JL: There is a perfect fit out there for everyone. Even if you don’t consider yourself a ‘jeans person,’ we are confident you have just not found the right pair yet. Rivet: How do you prioritize sustainability? JL: We uphold this effort through the sustainable brands we carry, alongside a local recycle program we recently launched with Suay Sew Shop. We encourage all our customers to drop off their worn denim in our store to be recycled and upcycled locally within the L.A. community. We are excited to partner with Suay Sew Shop for this initiative to provide a way for our clientele to help with the ongoing issue of post-consumer waste. We hope to educate our customers about the importance and lifecycle of denim and how this is a product that can continue to live beyond their closets. Rivet: Looking at the state of retail, what is your prediction for 2023? JL: There will be an increased demand for our denim concept around the world, and we are looking forward to bringing this experience to life elsewhere. 37
TORONTO’S POT OF GOLD How Canadian denim fixture Over the Rainbow is navigating the new fashion cycle. From the birth of designer jeans and young
Hollywood’s influence on trends to denim’s ongoing sustainable makeover, Over the Rainbow has seen it all. The Toronto-based denim store opened in 1975 by Joel Carman and quickly gained traction for its iconic wall of denim featuring a vast display of jeans for men and women, featuring brands like Citizens of Humanity, Mavi, Frame, Paige, J Brand, Naked & Famous and more. A family business focused on cultivating relationships with its customers, the store’s team earned a reputation for their friendly and helpful nature. Carman even became the star of the “Nice Guy jean,” a collaboration with Naked & Famous that featured an illustration of his face on the back patch of the limited-edition style. The close connections formed over decades could be what helped it survive the Covid-19 crisis. Despite retail being rocked by the pandemic, the store successfully navigated it and emerged with dedicated changing rooms, more hygienic practices, store pick-up capabilities and in-store tailoring services with strict covid guidelines. With Carman’s son Daniel serving as vice president, he aims to reestablish the store to suit the next generation of consumers’ denim needs. He told Rivet how he’s helping to guide the outpost through denim’s new cycle of relaxed fits and an increasing focus on sustainability.
Rivet: Describe your store’s POV. Daniel Carman: We are a denim lifestyle
store. Our clientele appreciates and invests in quality, sustainable, great fitting products. We are always looking for the best variety of products to satisfy the needs, wants and body types of our community. Rivet: What is your best-selling fit? DC: Comfort is quintessential to all our clients now. Men are slowly moving away from bodyhugging skinny jeans. They still prefer a tapered leg but with more thigh room, or a carrot-type fit. Women are definitely embracing everything from wide leg to cigarette leg jeans—basically anything that deviates from the traditional skinny legging jean. Rivet: Which styles are starting to slow down or fall out of fashion? 38
Over the Rainbow
DC: Every style has its purpose. Skinny will
never go away; we are seeing this fit transform and worn in more elegant settings with a beautiful blazer, blouse and dressier clothing. Rivet: What are some important qualities you look for in the brands you carry? DC: Reliable fits, sustainable fabrics, quality finishing and multi-functional elements— we call it the four F’s. We also look for real partnerships with open communication and shared goals with our brands. Rivet: If you had one request for denim brands, what would that be? DC: Always be open and transparent with your retail partners about your brand goals, business decisions and your product supply chain. Rivet: What do you wish more consumers knew? DC: How much actual hands-on work goes
into making a sustainable premium product, especially denim and outerwear. Rivet: How do you prioritize sustainability in your business? DC: By slowing down and being more thoughtful about our business decisions. When something is important, you make it happen. Sustainability has always been and will continue to be an important pillar of our brand. Rivet: Looking at the state of retail, what is your prediction for 2023? DC: Consumers are eager to resume their lives, and this includes safe, comfortable, memorable retail experiences. We are seeing an upswing in demand, and we believe we can continue to succeed as long as we continue paying attention to what our community needs and supplying them with the right products and services.
THE OG WORKHORSE With 100 years of workwear under its belt, Denny Bruce, Dickies global brand president, shares how the heritage brand is adjusting to post-pandemic realities and new consumer values. w o r d s _____ANGELA VELASQUEZ
Dickies is one of few apparel brands that can say it has been “on the job since 1922.” Established by cousins C.N. Williamson and Col. E.E. in 1922 as Williamson-Dickies Mfg. Co., the Dickies brand found its footing a decade later when its matching twill tops and bottoms became the de facto uniform for workers in the U.S. War time production in the 1940s followed by international expansion in the ’50s, evolved Dickies into a globally-recognized brand owned by VF Corporation since 2017. Worn by skaters, teens and generational icons like Tupac and Snoop Dogg, the brand has earned its place in the annals of pop culture, while maintaining its core audience—workers in fields as varied as landscaping, construction, mechanics, medical, hospitality, farm and manufacturing, to name a few. Dickies pays homage to the workers that helped build the brand in its centennial campaign called “Made in Dickies.” Featuring the stories of five individuals working in various 40
industries, the campaign launched with a 100th Collection that revisits heritage pieces including a denim overall, pants and chore coat and a khaki matched set. A communityfocused documentary developed with Vice TV launching at the end of the month will profile the subcultures that Dickies is linked to, and a special edition book by illustrator Lucas Beaufort about the brand’s history will land in the fall. As Dickies prepares for the next 100 years, Denny Bruce, Dickies global brand president, shares how the brand is weaving inclusivity, sustainability and functionality into everything they do. With a deep knowledge of balancing workwear and lifestyle, the company may be better equipped to handle consumers’ postpandemic expectations like durability and longevity than most. Rivet: Dickies heritage is performance workwear, but it also has a following with skaters and with consumers that enjoy the minimalist workwear look. What percent of Dickies’ business is performance workwear versus lifestyle? Denny Bruce: As a global business, this can be a more nuanced question to answer than it sounds because workwear looks very different across the world. I would say 70 percent of our North American business comes from workwear. In Europe, 40 percent of our business is workwear largely because European workwear is so highly regulated that what is thought of as traditional American workwear has been adopted into the lifestyle market as a style statement. That sentiment grows even stronger as you move East and into Asia where Dickies is solidly a lifestyle business. Rivet: What percentage of business comes from wholesale versus D2C? DB: Most of our business is a traditional wholesale business. That said, we know that great brands have a deep connection with their consumer. We use our Dickies.com platform to
not just simply sell products, we gleam insights into our consumer and leverage these insights to make products that customers want. Rivet: How has the pandemic affected Dickies’ business? DB: Our business has been strong throughout the pandemic as many of our wholesale partners remained open to service the essential workforce. Our product is initially bought for functional reasons. While it can also be a style statement, that functionality makes it more valuable as we return to the new normal. We’re all familiar with the social media memes that refer to the ‘tops no bottoms’ work-fromhome culture that became popular during the pandemic, but we are happy that this sentiment doesn’t apply to workwear and our workers. Rivet: How much of Dickies’ product line is based in denim? DB: Dickies holds a unique spot in the traditional workwear market—which is known to largely be made up of denim—as four out of five of our most iconic silhouettes (the 874 Work Pant, the Eisenhower Jacket, the Work Shirt and the Coverall) are made out of twill. The outlier to that is our denim bib overall. An iconic denim workhorse that has stood the test of time. We see our denim product gaining momentum on the lifestyle side of our business, but workers largely know and love Dickies for our twill. Rivet: Are there any key differences for the men’s business versus the women’s business? DB: We see more parallels than differences than ever before. Workwear includes a broad spectrum of diversity in body shape and size and because of that we’re accelerating our plus size and big and tall business. We’ve taken a
Q&A women’s first approach by perfecting our plus size fits and are now pulling our men’s big and tall business into focus. On the lifestyle side, we’re seeing more and more women opt into what has traditionally been thought of as men’s silhouettes and that sits top of mind as we push further into gender inclusive collections. Rivet: Inclusivity and sustainability are two topics that have dominated fashion headlines. How does Dickies address them? DB: With deep roots in workwear, we see a truly diverse customer range and take a lot of pride in being inclusive. Beyond our focus on body and gender inclusivity, we’re inclusive with our accessible price point and the availability of our product in the marketplace. We look at sustainability in two ways. Our products are built for longevity, to be in service and worn daily for years—that is a statement in sustainability. The evolution of sustainable fabrics that retain durability, which our customer is not willing to sacrifice, and at a cost neutral price is still not as prevalent as we’d like. Our European team has been vocal in challenging the industry in this area and because of that we’ve built a strong roadmap that saw us launch the Dickies Sustainable Icons Collection this spring in Europe made from recycled polyester. Rivet: Are you tracking any other lifestyle trends that could potentially impact the workwear category?
DB: We’ve known for a while those consumers don’t want to just buy clothes, they want an experience and as we think of how to address that, we kept returning to personalization. Personalization by adding a worker’s name to their uniform has been inherent in workwear for decades. We’re working on a project that will take that idea, expand it, and bring it to life both physically and digitally. There is a real nononsense simplicity to the way our product is built, and it allows wearers around the world, across all ages, jobs and lifestyles to adopt our product in a way that lets Dickies be their blank canvas for self-expression and we’re looking to further enable that for our customers. Rivet: How are you building a connection between Dickies and Gen Z? DB: There are intrinsic Dickies qualities that authentically appeal to Gen Z. Streetstyle is here to stay; that energy has exploded and will remain part of the apparel conversation. A lot of elements are influencing that, politics, the economy, and those elements have made our $30 straight leg, sturdy twill 874 Work Pant surge across a new generation of TikTok users who want to project their ambition to live outside of traditional systems. While Dickies has been organically adopted into the lifestyle market, we’re careful to control our own destiny. We strategically collaborate with other brands and influencers which has allowed us to express the unique attributes of Dickies to broader segments of the market. We recently
released two very successful skateboarding collaborations with two of our skate team members, a bag collection with Halsey, have dropped two collaborations with Supreme and are currently touring with Olivia Rodrigo as her tour merchandise supplier of choice. Rivet: In what ways do you think Dickies is the same as it was 100 years ago? DB: I’m constantly looking to Philip Williamson, Dickies’ fourth generation founding family member, to ground our product innovation in quality and durability. We live by two mantras, “Dickies products are as durable and honest as the people that wear them,” often said by Philip. And a more recent one as our lifestyle business continues to have a transformational impact on our brand, “Without work, there is no workinspired.” Rivet: What’s the next big opportunity for the brand? DB: Dickies turned 100 this year and our milestone anniversary represents not only the evolution of Dickies thus far, but the hardworking people who’ve made the brand what it is today, transcending it into a unique position of cultural relevance. As we look to the next 100 years and what’s next for workwear, we’re expanding our iconic twill workwear collections, collaborating with new partners in the lifestyle space, and focusing on what technologies, fabrics and silhouettes will shape the next generation of workwear.
From the archives: Truckers dress in Dickies in the 1940s.
A D V E R T O R I A L
How Artistic Milliners is Capitalizing on Fashion’s Casualization
Artistic Milliners’ denim world is expanding. The Pakistanbased mill recently opened Artmill, a woven textiles production facility serving consumers’ current clothing needs. Artistic Milliners also grew geographically with its Los Angeles-based laundry subsidiary Star Fades International (SFI). Omer Ahmed, CEO of Artistic Milliners, and Murtaza Ahmed, managing director of Artistic Milliners and SFI founder, explained the mill’s strategies to meet market demands and Pakistan’s position in denim. Rivet: What key denim styles are on the horizon? How is this shaping your material development? Omer Ahmed: We’re seeing a continuation of the shift toward loose silhouettes. It’s a look that pairs comfort with this baggy aesthetic that seems to be a hallmark of trends such as Y2K. We are designing fabrics that are almost purely cotton in looser weaves that complement these. How does your move into woven textiles with Artmill reflect market and consumer behavior trends? O.A.: Artmill’s conception was really a culmination of a strategy derived from this question: What is a consumer looking for when they buy woven products? It happened after a period of tactical soul-searching. We saw that customers are increasingly driven towards multidimensional clothing that can work in different contexts. Artmill’s vision is to build this new future for casual apparel of hybrid products that have built-in, cross-category versatility and can be performancedriven too. Now that SFI has been operational for over a year, what difference has this facility made for your North American clients? Murtaza Ahmed: SFI has really helped create and capitalize efficiencies from a delivery perspective, letting us focus our sampling there. But beyond that, it helped deepen our design game. From our digital fabric, wash and processing repositories, to vintage samples and in-house innovations, we offer clients design capabilities beyond what they have or are willing to invest in, which helps consolidate design finalization and cut lead times significantly. As recycled material usage continues to grow, how is Artistic Milliners’ Circular Park facility poised to help deliver more circular jeans and bring you closer to your target of total circularity? O.A.: Circular Park is envisioned as a physical realization
of our dream for 360 circularity—a symbol for what manufacturing can and must become. It’s the central collection point for preand post-consumer fiber waste, which should put over a million pounds of trash fiber back into the loop. That means millions of square meters of additional denim capacity each month. This is the vanguard of recovery technology, and a critical step on the roadmap of our circular efforts. Thanks to Laroche’s innovative tech and our partnership with Agraloop, Circular Park is set to become the cornerstone of our ethos of responsible manufacturing. Pakistan-based mills have recently seen tremendous growth. If brands aren’t already producing in Pakistan, why should they consider this sourcing location? O.A.: Pakistani manufacturers are constantly pushing boundaries, particularly when it comes to responsible innovation. It’s not just altruistic; it’s vital to our survival as a country given how climate affects us. From championing the use of waterless laser technology, pigments that minimize harmful byproducts and repurposed materials and green fibers, sustainability has become the norm and not the exception. Brands must get over the perception that it is significantly more difficult to do business in Pakistan than other sourcing destinations. Pakistan has risen 28 places to 108 in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index in just one year and are super competitive on pricing. The exchange rate is also a plus here. On our end, I think the messaging needs to catch up to the other forms of progress we’ve made to help the world see it.
“Customers are increasingly driven towards multidimensional clothing that can work in different contexts.”
DOWN TO THE CORE The current state of fashion is a duel between core items and themed “cores” built around social media-driven fads.
w o r d s _____ANGE LA V E LAS Q U E Z
When fashion historians look back at quarantine fashion, they will undoubtedly see a deluge of loungewear, a dizzying amount of tie-dye and moments of half-hearted effort by office workers dressing professionally from the waist up for Zoom meetings. They will also find copious amounts of thematic trends—or “cores”—built around escapist fashion. “A ‘core’ is a niche fashion trend, often born from social media, that revolves around a very specific visual aesthetic,” said Brenda Otero, Lyst’s cultural insights manager. Benjamin Ayer, founder of Benjamin Bellwether Consulting, likens cores to an essence, though to anyone older than Gen Z he said it’s probably just style. “Maybe Gen Z adopted the term because it goes one step beyond just the clothes you wear,” he said. “It’s the attitude you carry when you wear them. It’s the theme for your TikTok persona.” “Now on a journey of self-exploration and discovery spurred by social media, Gen Z is introducing a wave of new, niche aesthetics to the market,” said Kristin Breakell, Trendalytics content strategist, adding that the visual nature of fashion cores means Instagram, Snapchat and their ilk have created an environment for them to thrive. Cottagecore, an aesthetic built around a romanticized idea of the countryside, blew up in 2020 when cooped-up consumers picked up quaint hobbies like baking, gardening, needlepoint, and DIY crafts. It translated into oldtimey fashion like milkmaid necklines, prairie or “nap” dresses and ditsy floral prints, and jumpstarted the unwavering puff-sleeve trend. Cabincore entered the picture as a winterized version of cottagecore, distinguished by flannel
“You no longer must hide in the shadows of whatever subculture you belong to. You can display for everyone to see on your social..." —BENJAMIN AYER, CONSULTANT
fabrics, rugged raw denim and shackets. Add more technical attributes to cabincore pieces—like weatherproof outerwear and cargo pockets—and you have gorpcore, a catchall phrase to describe outdoor-inspired fashion with street appeal that The Cut actually coined in 2017. And then there was the December 2020 release of “Bridgerton,” the Regency-era Netflix hit series that inspired women to swap out their seats for corset tops, pearl and feather headbands, gloves and empire line dresses, all in the name of regencycore. Consumers continue to search for a range of accessories fit for royalty, Breakell said. Searches for bow heels are up 182 percent compared to last year, while searches for opera gloves are up 32 percent. The show’s influences didn’t wane with the second season. Marketing research firm Uswitch reported Google searches for “regencycore” increased 354 percent from the day before the new season aired to the day after its premiere. Regencycore is also linked to pearlcore, one of Pinterest’s trends to watch. “In 2022, people of all ages will embrace iridescent accents in their homes, in their jewelry boxes and even as nail art,” the social media platform stated in its annual trend report. “Pearl-themed parties will be on the rise, too, as people opt for pearly gowns and wedding décor.” Both opulent fashion cores may have come to a head at the 2022 Met Gala, however, as celebrities like Billie Eilish, Lizzo, Lily James, Sydney Sweeney and more dressed for the event’s Gilded Age theme. “The rise of these cores in mainstream media just shows how much the younger generations are embracing niche,” Ayer said. “You no longer must hide in the shadows of whatever subculture you belong to. You can display for everyone to see on social and be embraced by others with similar viewpoints.” For the past couple of years, Otero said core trends have moved faster and overtaken the traditional cycle of catwalks and collections, with the pandemic being a big factor. “People have been looking for connection in these uncertain times and have been eager to connect with communities of like-minded and aestheticdriven individuals,” she said. Social media plays a big role in the community aspect of fashion cores, and the speed at which they spread. TikTok has especially changed the way fashion enthusiasts engage with trends, Otero said. “The platform’s algorithm segments users based on what they like and therefore, we’ve seen a resurgence of subcultures and micro trends,” she said. “The cores came about in the time of social media when you have less than a second to catch someone’s attention, and clothing helps you do
Regencycore hits the red carpet at the Met Gala.
that,” Ayer added. “One could argue we are using cores to display who we are, or think we are.” NORMCORE OR CORE The current state of fashion is arguably a duel between themed “cores” built around social media-driven fads and items that are core to a brand’s business. On one side, brands like Loveshackfancy and House of Sunny are fueling fashion cores with thematic collections that also inspire makeup, hair and home decor trends. On the other, retailers are working overtime to curate edits of core items to help consumers rebuild their wardrobes as they return to some semblance of normalcy. However, the OG fashion core has laid the groundwork to today’s core items: normcore. The term was coined by New York-based art collective K-HOLE in 2013 to describe a mindset rooted in adaptability versus exclusivity—an approach that may resonate even more with consumers today. “Normcore wants the freedom to be with anyone. You might not understand the rules of football, but you can still get a thrill from the roar of the crowd at the World Cup. In Normcore, one does not pretend to be above the indignity of belonging,” the group stated in its “Youth Mode” report. Along the way, normcore the attitude turned into normcore the style, serving as an alternative to the then-popular hipster aesthetic. Normcore centered around basic items like Dad jeans, T-shirts, plain white sneakers and Birkenstock sandals. Jerry Seinfeld and Homer Simpson became normcore style icons. Lyst named normcore and its offshoot, dadcore, the biggest trends of 2018. Chunky sneakers, “slushy” cardigans, fleeces and “ugly” 45
FASHION shorts combined saw a 439 percent increase in views that year. “That trend was a rejection of maximalism and was all about average-looking clothes, it actually took several years for it to spread, and some would argue it’s still popular today,” Otero said. But normcore essentially was (and is) a return to back-to-basic items—or core items— that fashion brands have relied on for years as the foundation to their seasonal collections. It runs counter to the disposable aspect of today’s fashion cores. According to Kayla Marci, a market analyst at Edited, “core” and “essential” are the glow-up version of “basic,” making the concept more palatable to millennial and Gen Z consumers. It is the “timeless, quality wardrobe staples that require minimal updates to silhouette, color or pattern and can transcend generations, seasons and genders,” she added. Denim has always been a key part of core product ranges. “Cores are your commodity, they are the pieces in your range that are the base to your collection that you build around,” said Claire Ford, founder of Claire Ford Consultancy, whose clients include Outland Denim, Reiss, Strom and more. “Luckily, denim isn’t as fickle as some areas in fashion and moves a lot slower in [the] pace of trends.” Once considered trendy, sexy and even aspirational, skinny jeans have settled into their role as a core. “The skinny jean has been a big part of core for the last decade,” Ford said. “As we have seen in the last three years, more relaxed styles have trended up for many reasons and have become new core pieces due to aspects like covid, work from home, more relaxed styling, the Gen Z rebellion against the skinny jeans.” The 5-pocket jeans normally associated with core are wearable, easy fits, and always selling from one season to the next, she added.
and is never discounted or out of stock. In fact, she said core pieces are often repositioned as “best sellers” or “top performers.” Retailers tend to lean into “back in stock” messaging for when an item is replenished to help “drum up hype” and use customer reviews of core items from either online or social media to help back up their status. Since 2019, Edited has seen a steady increase in the number of products using the words “essential” and “staple,” up 23 percent and 112 percent from 2019 to 2021, respectively. The uncertainty that brands and retailers faced following the first months of the pandemic in 2020, coupled with consumers downsizing their belongings, tightening their spending, growing more aware about sustainability and prioritizing Some fashion comfort, has led to an even cores nod to greater focus on basics in recent the past. seasons. For most of 2020, solid color polo shirts ruled the men’s category, while neutral colors filtered across Brands are also giving core items women’s loungewear. sustainable makeovers. Levi’s renewed its “The pandemic underscored the need iconic 501 jean to include organic cotton, postfor retailers to rely on their bread-and-butter consumer recycled denim and other recyclable styles, especially those with comfort features, components last December. In comparison, to help mitigate risk around landing directional traditional 501 jeans are currently made with trends amid a global lockdown,” Mari said. 99 percent cotton and 1 percent elastane. Against the backdrop of an economic crisis, “I do not believe as a business you should she said this period helped solidify a “buy less, be covering every trend coming through, but buy better” mentality, where core pieces with you should carve your own path on trend and longevity were spotlighted alongside messages seasonless style,” Ford said. Designers and about sustainable shopping habits. It’s a message brands, she added, are becoming more aware of echoed in Levi’s “Buy the impact they have and driving more fashion Better, Wear Longer” cores can only reduce the number of garments campaign. Launched that will be sent to landfill. last April to raise However, trend-driven fashion continues awareness about to outpace core, basics, seasonless, staples— overproduction and whichever moniker you choose. In January, overconsumption, the Edited reported that of the new products that motto continues to arrived at U.S. and U.K. fast-fashion retailers over be the thread that the prior six months, core styles equaled less than connects the denim half of available women’s wear, with the more giant’s assortment of new sustainable products “flash-in-the-pan” trends making up 59 percent and its secondhand business. of stock. The proportion of core ranges for men’s Though designers entertained ideas wear was slightly higher at 45 percent, though about producing fewer collections during the trends still dominate at 54 percent. bleakest days of the pandemic, the movement “With the trend cycle exploding and fasthasn’t quite taken shape. Rather, brands are fashion retailers dropping new products at repackaging core products as seasonless or hyper-speed juxtaposing with the climate evergreen concepts. Case in point: Diesel crisis, seasonless products are more essential launched Diesel Library, a range of longerthan ever,” Marci said. lasting denim items on a “made-to-stay basis.” “Retailers need to navigate the balance The brand aims for 50 percent of its overall between disposable trends and styles with denim collection to have a permanent shelf life. evergreen appeal.”
“People are exploring their identities and searching for community." —KRISTIN BREAKELL, TRENDALYTICS
For a designer, core pieces are a starting ground. “When I work with a new client, I always want to start with their core range and make that the best it can possibly be before working on the trend pieces,” Ford said. “I find so much joy in working on the core range— dissecting it, relooking at fabrications, stitch detail…how it is being made.” The core, she added, should represent the backbone of a brand’s collection. From a retailer’s perspective, Marci said core fashion maintains a consistent price point 46
A D V E R T O R I A L
How LYCRA Brand Innovations are Improving Jeans’ Fit and Function Stretch fibers are a key ingredient for better fitting, more comfortable jeans. The LYCRA Company's The Science of Fit™ concept is taking stretch a step further with highquality stretch fabrics that not only provide comfort but also additional performance benefits. As Ebru Ozaydin, the company’s strategic marketing director, denim and ready-to-wear, put it, “Adding function to fashion is The LYCRA Company’s reason for existing.” Here, she details some of LYCRA® brand’s latest innovations to meet denim shopper demands. Rivet: One of the biggest issues with selling jeans is achieving a perfect fit for every shopper. What LYCRA® solutions help brands deliver flattering and comfortable denim for all? Ebru Ozaydin: Traditionally sized jeans will not fit every consumer because there is a range of body types within any one size. Body shape can even fluctuate throughout the day, which can lead to wearer discomfort. Patentpending LYCRA® ADAPTIV fiber has unique properties that enable garments to adapt to different body shapes within a size. This means jeans can deliver a custom-like fit that increases wearer comfort and confidence. At rest, the fiber’s compressive holding force delivers the right fit, shape and control. And when the wearer is moving, the fiber provides improved comfort and a second-skin effect that keeps the garment in place. This innovation also offers brands the possibility of reducing costly returns
due to poor fit. Denim remains a wardrobe staple, but athleisure’s popularity continues to grow. How can stretch materials convince shoppers to more frequently opt for jeans over leggings or sweatpants? E.O.: Athleisure’s explosive growth shows that it has embraced innovation and offers consumers what they desire most: exceptional comfort, fit and functional performance. That gives perfect feedback from the end consumer on their needs and pain points to offer denim with comparable benefits. For example, the consumer was looking for a customized fit solution at a reasonable cost, and we developed LYCRA® ADAPTIV fiber. The stretch element in denim remains vitally important to offer diverse solutions for all ages, genders, body shapes and sizes. What features are denim shoppers looking for when it comes to stretch? E.O.: The consumer has an ultimate desire: the perfect pair of jeans. But denim needs vary by consumer segment. We strive to have a solution for each consumer need or pain point. For example, we’re seeing low-rise jeans becoming popular again. We believe LYCRA® ADAPTIV fiber technology is the ideal solution for this trend because of its adaptive stretch properties. Another example is the powerful trend of “smart casual.” This reflects the consumer’s need for comfort and desire for dressing up, further fueled by the transition from remote to hybrid working necessitating the need for more office-appropriate looks, without sacrificing comfort. We offer the solution of LYCRA® DUAL COMFORT technology, which was launched at Kingpins Amsterdam in April. This offers in-demand functional benefits like all-day comfort with moisture-wicking performance that keeps the wearer cool and dry. This technology can also be made with LYCRA® T400® EcoMade fiber, one of our most successfully sustainability fibers, containing recycled and renewable content. How are you working with your brand partners to promote the LYCRA® difference? E.O.: Our hangtag is a powerful marketing tool to drive preference for the LYCRA® brand. We enjoy nearly 90 percent awareness with consumers worldwide, who recognize and value the LYCRA® brand name. They view our brand logo as a symbol of quality that can act as a purchase driver. We encourage brands to order our complimentary hangtags that explain our fibers’ benefits to consumers. We also work with brands and retailers on marketing collaborations that highlight the value of LYCRA® fiber in their collections. Our branded fibers can help drive the differentiation that our customers are seeking as they look to highlight the performance features of their offerings.
“LYCRA fibers are the vitally essential elements in denim to offer diverse solutions for all genders, body shapes and sizes.” ®
Cores bring out the inner child.
Currently, retailers’ core ranges are dominated by relaxed light-wash denim, slouchy blazers, oversized tees, white button-down shirts, plain white sneakers and ribbed tops and dresses inspired by loungewear, Edited reported. Though these pieces are widely considered to be closet staples, Swedish influencer Matilda Djerf is credited with making them trendy. Known for her simple but chic style, Djerf has been a source of style inspiration for years, recently gaining traction on TikTok where #matildadjerf has over 44 million views, Trendalytics said. As a result, the platform has seen searches for oversized blazers climbed 122 percent year-over-year and demand for button-down shirts increase 62 percent. Searches for knit tube tops are up 127 percent. “Comfort will continue to dictate core collections with roomy silhouettes like wide-leg trousers [and] soft-touch fabrics like silks and fuzzy textures [which are] lending [themselves] to the elevated loungewear styling that is now a core look in itself,” Marci said. Puffer jackets, ribbed sets, casual trench coats, denim and “pick-and-mix suiting” are core items to watch in the coming seasons, and while neutral color palettes are unsurprisingly favored for core items Marci named “dopamine dressing” as a way retailers can update core items with minimal risk. CORE PATROL “Normcore was definitely the start of all the mainstream hype around cores, but others are popping up every day,” Ayer said. Breakell added that cores reflect the cultural moment, and their popularity varies depending on season and surrounding cultural events. “While cottagecore is currently declining, there are more niche, related trends that should be on retailers’ radars,” she added. “Fairycore captures a similar romantic, whimsical aesthetic… Searches 48
for gorpcore have been steadily increasing since the end of 2020 as covid-19 pushed people to explore new hobbies and embrace the outdoors as a means of escape from the stresses of pandemic living. The aesthetic will likely continue to grow as people search for products at the intersection of fashion and function.” Then there’s magic gorpcore, a “hedonistic take on gorpcore” that combines the technical elements from survivalist fashion with styling from rave culture and psychedelia. Lyst reported that the core sparked a 72 percent increase in page views for colorful Arc’teryx jackets in January. Pairing bespoke insights from 160 million online shoppers with cultural analysis and social media tracking, Otero said Lyst has identified “blogger-core,” an aesthetic based on 2010s fashion bloggers, as the hottest internetborn trend right now. Searches for thenbloggers’ favorite bag, Balenciaga’s City bag, spiked 37 percent in January while page views for peplum silhouettes increased 10 percent. The reopening of nightclubs, the popularity of harness styling videos on TikTok, and subversive look worn by celebrities like Julia Fox and Kourtney Kardashian have all contributed to the rise of fetishcore. Lyst has seen a 26 percent increase in searches for latex products since February, while sales of leather chokers have increased 100 percent since Gorpcore and dopamine the start of the year. dressing Though blue-purple collide. colors like WGSN’s Digital Lavender and Pantone’s Very Peri have touched everything from Levi’s denim to Birkenstock sandals, Lyst sees brown evolving into a core of its own. Otero said brown fashion-related hashtags are driving 140 million views on TikTok and that it “could well be the next Millennial pink.” Though cores can “fizzle out as fast as they came,” Ayer said brands and retailers should subscribe to the ones that reinforce sustainable ideas and purchasing habits over ones that promote disposable fashion. Denim’s versatility makes the wardrobe staple a key item for fashion cores. “Denim has become so ubiquitous these days it fits into so much of the fashion that’s happening today,” Ayer said. “Earthcore would call for vintage or eco-friendly denim. Cabincore calls for
“ Luckily, denim isn't as fickle as some areas in fashion and moves a lot slower... " —CLAIRE FORD, CONSULTANT
items like flannel-lined denims. Grungecore calls for beat-up and black denim.” While many embrace the new wave of fashion cores, Breakell said others may see them as superficial and frivolous, especially given the sheer number of new, extremely niche aesthetics. “What exactly is bloomcore? Or carnivalcore? While the number of emerging aesthetics can be overwhelming, they are ultimately harmless,” she said. “People are exploring their identities and searching for community. Following a certain fashion core may help in that journey, but people will quickly realize they are multidimensional and cannot be defined by any one aesthetic.”
A D V E R T O R I A L
Denim Production Complements $700 Million, Five-Year Growth Vision Although Interloop only introduced denim production in 2018, the category is expected to pay major dividends for the company’s overall manufacturing business. Sporting multi-category production capabilities across hosiery, knitwear and activewear, the manufacturer set a bold goal last year to double total sales to $700 million by 2026. Fahid Hussain, assistant vice president, denim of Interloop, tells Rivet about the apparel manufacturer’s development in the denim space, the plans for the category and progress on the company’s overall “Vision 2025” growth strategy. Rivet: How are you catering to 2022 consumer denim trends and retail demands? Fahid Hussain: Despite a few strong retail seasons last year, the demand for denim is expected to remain conservative for the rest of 2022. Retailers will shrink their buying cycles to reduce inventories, pushing suppliers towards shorter manufacturing times. Digital sampling, digital collections and digital store setups are becoming essential tools for brands and retailers, and this demand will continue to grow. We are prepared for a complete digital transformation with highly skilled 3D designers and laser technicians, facilitating our partners in this journey, from concept to retail. Additionally, a considerable post-pandemic lifestyle shift has consumers preferring loose and straighter fits, with more comfort and functionality. The demand for super skinnies and high-stretch fabrics has been replaced with 100 percent cotton/comfort stretch.
“We planned to double our size over the next five years and have closed Year 1 on target.”
How has your team been maneuvering the supply chain constraints and delivery delays over the past year? F.H.: While risks cannot be completely eliminated, our global teams collaborated with our partners to mitigate them. Our planning teams have been working closely with our customers and use a range of data points (POS data, promotional events and transit times) to predict future demand level. We have been chasing additional quantity in season and have helped our customers see where they need to cut inventory levels, which has boosted sales. That said, planning is as much an art as a science and there is never 100 percent accuracy. In such circumstances, we have had to carry raw material stocks, ask our suppliers to carry more inventory and create additional storage space for finished goods. Last year, Interloop set its Vision 2025 goal to serve all ages and genders through denim, seamless knits and hosiery among other products. How has this progressed? F.H.: Vision 2025 is a growth-led strategy focused on offering multi-category products manufactured with the highest standards of social and environmental performance. We planned to double our size over the next five years and have closed Year 1 on target, growing by 20 percent on an annual basis, on top of last year’s 50 percent sales increase. We have grown across all our categories and further deepened our relationships with existing partners. Our expansion projects are all on track with Hosiery Plant 5 fully ramped up, apparel park construction underway and our secondphase denim expansion planned for 2023. Interloop has set select science-based targets for 2026. What are you seeking to accomplish in that time frame? F.H.: We are aiming to reduce emissions 30 percent over the next five years. It is quite a challenge and even more so for a growing company, but we see it as an opportunity to transform our operations. We are investing heavily in renewable energy and our current solar installed capacity (6MW) is equivalent to 25 percent of our current energy requirements. We will be more than doubling our solar capacity over the next five years, phasing out coal-fired boilers (one of our biggest emissions culprits) and switching to biomass. We are also one of the founding members of Net Zero Pakistan, an apparel/textile coalition with over 25 signatories aiming to work collectively to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
. Workwear goes glam O _____ LE XI E M ph ot og ra ph y IA D BA EX st yl in g _____ AL
RE LA N D
RE/DONE X HANES TANK TOP; MARKARIAN CAPE; R13 JEANS; DOC MARTENS BOOTS; MER EARRING AND RINGS; LARUICCI NECKLACE; RUSH JEWELRY DESIGN AND JOANNA LAURA CONSTANTINE RINGS.
THIS PAGE: IRO JACKET; CALVIN KLEIN JEANS BRA AND THONG; STILL HERE COTTON JEANS; LARUICCI NECKLACE; EMMA PILLS NECKLACE; RUSH JEWELRY DESIGN, JOANNA LAURA CONSTANTINE, MER AND CELESTE STARRE RINGS. OPPOSITE: ALEXANDER MCQUEEN DENIM AND LEATHER JACKET AND JEANS; RE/DONE X HANES TANK TOP; DOC MARTENS BOOTS; MER EARRING AND RING; LARUICCI NECKLACE; RUSH JEWELRY DESIGN, JOANNA LAURA CONSTANTINE AND CELESTE STARRE RINGS.
THIS PAGE: RIVET UTILITY DENIM JUMPSUIT; MOSCHINO GLOVES; MER EARRING; LARUICCI NECKLACE; VITALITY AND JOOMI LIM NECKLACES (WORN AS BRACELET); CELESTE STARRE RING. OPPOSITE: ALICE + OLIVIA TOP; ALPHA INDUSTRIES BOMBER JACKET; ATTICO PANTS; DOC MARTENS BOOTS; MER EARRING.
SANTA BRANDS RHINESTONE AND FEATHER TOP; CARHARTT WIP VEST; ISABEL MARANT JEANS; DOC MARTENS BOOTS; MER EARRING AND RINGS; CELESTE STARRE RING.
OUTERKNOWN ORGANIC COTTON AND LINEN JUMPSUIT; MOTHER TANK TOP; MOSCHINO GLOVES; STUART WEITZMAN BOOTS; MER EARRING; VITALY NECKLACE; LARUICCI NECKLACE; VITALITY AND JOOMI LIM NECKLACES (WORN AS BRACELET); CELESTE STARRE RING.
Model: Alexandra Elizabeth @ Kollektiv MGMT; Hair: Izumi Sato; Makeup: Ayami Nishimura Visual Media Director: Jenna Greene; Market Editors: Luis Campuzano, Emily Mercer and Thomas Waller; Fashion Assistants: Kimberly Infante and Ari Stars; Photo Assistants: Ed Singleton and Vince Cai.
OPPOSITE: DIOR DRESS; ISABEL MARANT DENIM JACKET; BALMAIN BOOTS; MEME LONDON EARRINGS.
THIS PAGE: VERSACE PATCHWORK JACKET; MARIE FRANCE VAN DAMME METALLIC MAILLOT; LUCKY BRAND JEANS; STUART WEITZMAN BOOTS; LARUICCI NECKLACE; EMMA PILLS NECKLACE; RUSH JEWELRY DESIGN, JOANNA LAURA CONSTANTINE, MER AND CELESTE STARRE RINGS. OPPOSITE: RIVET UTILITY DENIM JUMPSUIT; RE/ DONE X HANES TANK TOP; MOSCHINO GLOVES; MER EARRING; LARUICCI NECKLACE; VITALITY AND JOOMI LIM NECKLACES (WORN AS BRACELET); CELESTE STARRE RING.
Talent: Robin Holzken @ The Society Management; Hair and makeup: Avery Golson @ See Management; Casting: Luis Campuzano; Market editors: Emily Mercer, Thomas Waller; Fashion assistants: Kimberly Infante, Ari Stark
FIT FIX How data-driven sizing firms are taking on denim. w o r d s _____JESSICA BINNS
Nadia Boujarwah understands the importance of fit more than most. The Dia & Co. co-founder and CEO falls into the “10-to-16” size range where anything from a medium to an XL might work for her silhouette, depending on the clothing brand. Trying to figure out the “what size am I?” question when it comes to denim is “just really hard,” she said. After launching the New York company in 2015 to help women wearing sizes 1432 shop fashion from their favorite brands, Boujarwah catapulted the e-commerce startup forward in January when True Fit’s technology arrived on Dia’s denim-dominated product pages where jeans make up 25 percent of the overall assortment, depending on the season. That implementation came after Dia in 2020 broadened its original curated subscription-box model to include a marketplace where “brands work directly with customers” and consumers can shop à la carte, she said. If fit is a problem for fashion as a whole, it’s only that much more maddening on the plus end of the sizing spectrum. “Generally speaking, fit challenges are amplified in an inclusive fashion context,” Boujarwah said. “And so, we have really invested in addressing fit from as many kinds of angles as possible.” She echoed a common refrain in conversations around fit, namely that what consumers want from their clothing is “both subjective and objective.” Fit and sizing technology are gaining
prominence not only because more consumer dollars are migrating online but also because deep pockets don’t guarantee that a brand will nail how garments, and especially denim, work for a variety of bodies, according to Boujarwah, who credits Dia’s two years of marketplace insights for shedding light on the sizing struggle. “Brands independently have an exceptionally hard time designing, manufacturing and selling in the plus-size community,” she said of the biggest learnings from Dia’s marketplace debut. “I think the news from Old Navy, for example, is one incarnation of this, where even very large retailers have trouble succeeding in what should be a very large market for most companies.” In May, Gap Inc. CEO Sonia Syngal said Old Navy “overestimated” in-store demand for its size-inclusive Bodequality launch, leading the company to pull “select extended sizes” from 90 U.S. and Canadian stores. Companies large and small are throwing data and technology at the problem, and both ready-to-wear and made-to-measure brands are investing in solutions for front- and backend success.
CONFIDENCE AROUND QUALITY
For Boujarwah, True Fit’s first-mover status as one of the OGs of fit tech works in its favor. “The fact that they have been in the market for as long as they have been had a really important benefit to us, which is that they had much more
plus-sized data that gave us confidence around the quality of the recommendations and the value that it would add to our customers in a way that I think is pretty unique,” she said, referencing the Boston company’s 2009 origins and work with 150 global retail sites and 17,000 brands. Plus, True Fit has its roots in denim, said cofounder Jessica Murphy, who agrees that jeans are far and away the “hardest-to-fit category.” “This is rocket science—it actually is,” she quipped. The company’s data scientists are solving for all of the factors culminating in that elusive “‘wow’ moment when you put on a pair of jeans and you turn around” to admire the rear view, she said. But tackling those manifold factors is no small feat. In many ways, True Fit’s 13-year evolution mirrors e-commerce’s decadeplus growth spurt. “When we first started the company, we felt like to get it right you needed to have this long questionnaire and ask every question under the sun” to gather every bit of minutiae on a consumer’s measurements and fit preferences, Murphy said. That might work for the “1 percent of the population” with the time to submit to a full interrogation, but now the company is focused on a solution that “works for the masses.” What True Fit “underestimated early on” is that fit “really isn’t a math problem,” she said of the company’s movement away from a solution that asks shoppers to reach for the measuring tape.
“Jeans are the foundation for a type of wardrobe relationship with your customers that’s hard to find outside of denim.” —NADIA BOUJARWAH, DIA & CO.
“We’re going to point you in the right direction and hopefully weed out a lot of the [jeans] that are going to drive you to tears in the dressing room,” Murphy said. True Fit’s “lightweight” approach accounts for why 80 million registered users have engaged with the technology. Tell us which brands you wear and enjoy and in what sizes, and we’ll steer you toward labels that fit similarly well, it promises. The familiar red-and-white True Fit logo now lives on the digital pages of denim powerhouses including Madewell, Neiman Marcus, 7 For All Mankind, Pacsun and JCPenney. It’s that value across the broader fashion e-ecommerce system that especially resonated with Dia. “The way that True Fit presents their recommendation and in reality follows people through their shopping journeys on the internet is really intuitive to customers,” Boujarwah said, pointing to what is likely a familiar fit-finding experience that many consumers have already engaged with on other sites, meaning the barrier to engagement is low. Six months into working with True Fit, 7 percent of Dia customers have interacted with the user-friendly widget.
The fit tech sector is growing—and expansive enough for both the big dogs and the new kids on the block. Bold Metrics’ $8 million funding round in May is a testament to fashion’s appetite for hightech solutions to fit. The San Francisco startup’s technology leverages artificial intelligence to capture a consumer’s body measurement and connect that intel to clothing data and spit out the size most likely to result in a satisfied sale. This approach guides shoppers on the best size from participating brands and “how a particular ready-to-wear size would fit across critical points of measure,” said CEO Daina Burnes, who founded the company in 2012. Without Bold Metrics, Blue Delta Jeans wouldn’t be able to scale its direct-to-consumer business, said Tyler Sutliff, an investor and operating partner at the Oxford, Miss. denim company where $450 made-to-measure raw denim jeans come in straight, boot, “fashion boot” and skinny silhouettes manufactured down the road in Tupelo. In many ways, fit tech has laid the groundwork for the next phase of Blue Delta’s growth. Not only did Bold Metrics allow the denim company’s tailors to put aside their
physical measuring tape, but giving consumers confidence around the accuracy of its fit means Blue Delta can spread its wings into new categories. Bold Metrics, Sutliff said, “opened the door to future product rollouts beyond custom jeans and cotton pants.” “We are good at making custom jeans and pants and those lines will always be the core of our business, but with customer sizing data we can offer our customers other apparel options down the road,” he said, pointing to a custom belt rollout on deck for summer 2022. A “teachable moment” is one way to describe how Blue Delta’s experience learning from Bold Metrics translates into showing denim shoppers what’s possible, he added. “The ‘opportunity’ for Blue Delta in the denim world is to educate people that they do not need to settle for an off-the-rack jean made thousands of times over in a garment factory overseas,” Sutliff said of the value of a customized product that takes fit worries of the equation. Blue Delta’s old-meets-new tactics create a wholly different experience. “While our sizing technology is high tech, our customer service model is old school, high touch and rooted in Southern hospitality— the result is happy customers in perfect-fitting jeans,” he added. UpWest, the sustainability- and wellnessfocused millennial label Express Inc. launched in 2019, credits fit tech for addressing one of its biggest pain points as a new brand: “making sure new customers understand the fit of our products,” said Cory Uehlein, digital activation and analytics associate at the Columbus, Ohiobased firm, which sells a full assortment of dualgender apparel in addition to what it bills as “all day” denim and unisex styles. “Our purpose is to provide comfort, which goes into making sure the customer has the appropriate fit they desire,” Uehlein noted, adding, “We want to make sure that every customer is confident in the size they purchase.” UpWest has seen a drop in returns relating to poor fit in the wake of the Bold Metrics integration, he said. You can also expect to hear the name Bodidata in the years ahead. The “measure, match and manage” company’s patented Kora body scanner includes an optical sensor and millimeter wave radar technology—what the Transportation Security Administration uses in airport scanners screening millions of airline passengers each year. The St. Petersburg, Fla. company launched in 2017 with an initial focus
on uniforms—for a very good reason, said cofounder and CEO Tuoc Luong. Starting in the uniform sector has allowed Bodidata to prove its technology works, he said. “There’s no opting out” when an employer requires employees to be scanned and fitted for the clothing they’ll wear from 9 to 5. “We wanted a captive audience initially,” which is critical for building out a broad data set of real-world bodies versus carefully selected fit models while maintaining data privacy. And that means Bodidata can hit the ground running when it finally goes after vertically integrated apparel retailers in 2023. Those conversations can start right off the bat with the data from the thousands or millions of the workers—ie, consumers—who’ve already been scanned “without doing anything with your customer base,” Luong said. Bodidata is already tiptoeing into the space, with a pair of test pilots scanning pupils for Lands’ End school uniforms that could blossom into a broader rollout with the Wisconsin clothing company “if it works out well,” Luong said.
A FITTING FOUNDATION
“Style sampling is fine, but not when we know that the thing that you just bought is never going to work for you,” she said. “Our goal is if you’re going to buy five things, let those be successful things. Hopefully you're picking from five great things, not four that might fit you awful, and one that works.” And for Dia, getting denim right can translate into stronger business across the board, underscoring the importance of helping customers make the right decision at checkout. “One of the reasons why denim ends up being so important is because once you find denim that fits you, it's one of the categories of apparel that drives more loyalty than almost anything else,” Boujarwah said. Dia is “very happy” to invest in steering customers toward their best fit because “jeans are the foundation for a type of wardrobe relationship with your customers” that’s hard to find outside of denim, she said.
Dia & Co.
A D V E R T O R I A L
How Verticality Leads to Versatility at Panther Denim Before jeans arrive at retail, they undergo a complex production process. Hong Kong-based mill Panther Denim is vertical from spinning to finishing, simplifying the supply chain for its customers to prevent disruptions and enhance flexibility. Here, Tim Huesemann, sales director at Panther Denim, discusses the mill’s adaptability. Rivet: Going beyond the five-pocket jean, denim has lately been incorporated into categories like athleisure. How is Panther developing textiles that harness denim’s versatility? Tim Huesemann: We believe there is no limitation of denim fabrics, and we never limit ourselves with a 3x1 twill jeans look. With our strong research in fashion trends, our ideas are coming from many emerging fashion elements, and we are proud to say we are as versatile as the fashion industry. Besides, as a vertical denim mill, we have the ability to develop something from raw materials, and we are agile enough to modify according to the trends. Though the development cost is quite high, we are happy to invest in R&D since we are in this versatile role.
What are some of the key denim trends you expect to see in 2023? Which Panther material designs fit these styles? T.H.: Firstly, regarding the silhouettes, the wide fit is going to dominate in both ladies' and menswear; the sales figures already show that men’s wide fit is gaining momentum. In this case, we will be developing more rigid fabrics but in a different direction. Secondly, customers still like the soft hand feel. We are using other raw materials and developing new technology from spinning to finishing to improve the softness of the fabric. Last but not least, sustainability is still a hot topic in 2023 denim trends. We are using responsible materials like BCI cotton, organic cotton, Tencel Lyocell and more. We also keep developing our products from different kinds of recycled materials and natural resources.
“As a vertical denim mill, we have the ability to develop something from raw materials, and we are agile enough to modify according to the trends.” Rigid denim has taken off lately, but what is the enduring appeal of stretch denim? What are consumers and your brand customers looking for when it comes to stretch? T.H.: Stretch denim still has its own place when it comes to flexibility, and we believe that the slim fit will still be there. The fashion trend in terms of single fit will not be as overwhelming as decades ago. We already see that the fashion world is more versatile than 20 years ago. As long as the fit versatility is there, rigid and stretch denim can get along very well. After denim enters consumers’ closets, there is inevitably an end of life for garments. How is Panther addressing the eventual disposal of denim? T.H.: It may have happened a lot in the past, but nowadays people are more aware of being environmentally friendly and sustainable. No matter what kind of material we use for the garment, under the circular economy, people can always use their old things to redevelop them into something else. People treat their old clothes differently nowadays, especially jeans. When the jeans are damaged or torn, there are a small amount of people sending them for professional darning or even hand repairing with sashiko stitching. The culture of repairing denim and keeping jeans alive goes back decades. People also like to repurpose jeans. The unwanted old jeans still have more economic value than a chino in the same condition. I think the indigo dye has huge influence in this part, as faded indigo looks perfectly match with dirt or patina. Panther’s approach will be to promote this unique denim lifestyle by playing up these elements in our collection and donating our old archive samples to artists to recreate them.
SELLING SUSTAINABILITY Retailers are expanding their conscious edits, but are buyers asking brands the right questions about their sustainable manufacturing? w o r d s _____JASMIN MALIK C HUA
"No one’s asked me for my cotton certificates before,” said Adam Taubenfligel, co-founder and creative director of Triarchy, a Los Angelesbased denim company that sells so-called “sustainable” jeans. “Usually I’m the one kind of harassing people with information.” But it was as if a switch flipped over the past year, he said. These days, Taubenfligel isn’t just sending the label’s Global Recycled Standard and Oeko-Tex bonafides to wholesale customers like Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom. He’s also describing the type of machinery it’s using and the water-consumption needs of its wash processes. They want to know where the recycled metals in Triarchy’s hardware come from and what makes its natural dyes so natural. “Basically all the information that I’m providing to a third-party auditor I’m now sending to the buyer and their head of ESG.” Multi-brand retailers have plenty of reasons to be cautious, particularly now that both brickand-mortar and pure-play operations alike are increasingly flagging their better-for-the-planet offerings in highly curated collections. With climate concerns and corporate scrutiny at alltime highs, companies can no longer afford to relegate their eco-messaging just to Earth Day.
Triarchy appears in Bergdorf Goodman’s Conscious Curation, Neiman Marcus’s Fashioned for Change and Nordstrom’s Sustainable Style, to name a few. Whereas Taubenfligel used to check off a few boxes for the brand’s buyers, he can now spend entire days mired in spreadsheets about fibers, materials and manufacturing. “A couple of years ago people would be like ‘Oh, great, you’re sustainable. Cool. Let's throw you in there,’ but now I give them the same information and then someone’s usually reaching back out and saying, ‘Hey, I actually need you to back up these things that you are saying, so can you please send me the certificates? Can you please elaborate on this point?’” Taubenfligel said. “So they're obviously hiring people who know that world now.” But experts say that the landscape remains a confusing one. What, for instance, makes something sustainable? Absent regulatory rigor, many of the terms fashion purveyors bandy about are open to the broadest of interpretations. In their scramble to appeal to consumers’ growing ethical consciousness, brands are sometimes less than scrupulous about their eco-assertions, leading to accusations of greenwashing that can erode consumer trust and stymie systemic change. Unsubstantiated and misleading green claims are ubiquitous in the fashion industry, even though some attempt at legislation by the European Commission is coming down the pike, said George Harding-Rolls, campaign manager at the Changing Markets Foundation (CMF). Until formal policing happens, however, it’s pretty much anything goes. A study that the corporate watchdog conducted last summer, for instance, found that 59 percent of such declarations by British and European firms, including Asos, H&M and Marks & Spencer, lacked a credible basis. In the case of H&M, the number of “false” claims exceeded 95 percent. (H&M said it doesn’t recognize itself in the way it’s being depicted and bases all product sustainability claims on third-party certification schemes to “ensure sustainable sourcing and integrity.”) “I think it’s a particular issue for the fashion industry because it’s such a marketing-led thing,” Harding-Rolls said. “It’s rightly tapped into the fact that people who buy fashion are concerned with the environment and want to be able to do something about it. And brands have realized that they can make shallow green claims with the hope of getting people to buy their clothes. I’m sure in some cases it is accidental, but I think if you look at it in the round, it’s quite intentional.” When Farfetch launched its Conscious edit in 2019, it veered away from using the word “sustainable.” Not only is the term overused, confusing and “kind of empty,” according to Federica Licini, the luxury platform’s senior
sustainable business manager, but it also doesn’t capture its myriad nuances. “Conscious” ultimately made the cut because it offered a better framework for setting out “legitimate and trustworthy” criteria, she said. Farfetch doesn’t take claims at face value. For inclusion in Conscious, an item must contain a “significant proportion” of a material that is independently recognized as being better from an environmental, social or animal welfare perspective; holds independent certification related to better environmental, social or animal welfare practices; or brandishes a positive score on the ethical-rating platform Good on You. Neither do its standards remain static, Licini said. “Every year we really look at our list of criteria with the support of external advisors to make sure that what we consider sustainable is really legitimate given the progress of the industry,” she said. A brand that crafted bags from vegetabletanned leather, for instance, used to be a shoo-in. Now that more companies are embracing the material, however, the bar needs to be higher to push for the “industry that we need.” Nordstrom began highlighting its sustainable offerings after a 2018 poll found that most of its customers wanted to be able to home in responsibly made products more easily. The retailer currently offers more than 11,000 products that fall under the Sustainable Style aegis. It aims to have 15 percent of its product assortment qualify as such by 2025. “We hope that by supporting customers to find more sustainable and responsible products, we're also supporting the brands that are developing innovative products like this, which will ultimately drive positive change across our industry—but we're not stopping there,” said Gigi Ganatra Duff, its vice president of corporate
affairs. “We believe that Nordstrom and the rest of the fashion industry play an important role and share responsibility in addressing these complex challenges.” Many common terms in the industry are challenging to verify, she admitted. To sort sustainability truth from fiction, Nordstrom employs “clear, measurable and externally validated” criteria. Clothing and shoes that fall under Sustainable Style must comprise at least 50 percent sustainably sourced materials, are responsibly manufactured or have a charitable component. “We encourage our customers and our merchants to evaluate sustainable claims using clear, measurable and externally validated sustainability criteria,” Duff said. “For example, when you’re looking for items made with sustainably sourced materials, you might look for Fair Trade certified cotton, Tencel lyocell and Forest Stewardship Council certified, among others.” Not all firms who apply for inclusion in these edits get in. Macy’s said it has rejected brands that do not meet the sustainable materials, responsible production and animal welfare criteria of its Sustainable “sitelet,” though it tries to work with companies to give them an extra push if they need it. Like other retailers, Macy’s relies on thirdparty certifications such as Recycled Standard, the Global Organic Textile Standard, Fair Trade, Oeko-Tex and the Responsible Wool Standard to help it make its decisions. Figuring out if a brand is being honest takes time and analysis, said Laurie Rando, the retailer’s director of sustainable products and human rights. Trusted initiatives help move that process along. “Macy’s vets the products within our sustainable assortment through third-party certifications which meet our standards of 65
RETAIL validity,” Rando said. “Prior to determining which certifications to accept, we review each to ensure that it’s credible and rigorous.” Such diligence isn’t universal, said Palle Stenberg, co-founder of Sweden’s Nudie Jeans, which can be found in eco-curations by Farfetch, Nordstrom and Selfridges. Some retailers have a very “low” knowledge of what “real sustainability” is, he said. The label tries to organize product knowledge sessions to educate buyers and their customer service staff about its social and environmental initiatives, including its climate, wage and transparency commitments. “The truth is that 50 percent of the buyers don’t ask about [our sustainability credentials] at all, but thinks [they are] interesting,” Stenberg said. “The other 50 percent is putting requirements, but the question is if they have the capacity to follow up on what brands report and very few have hard requirements of what is needed in terms of sustainability.” Sandya Lang, Nudie Jeans’ sustainability manager, said that the questions multi-brand retailers need to ask should go even deeper. Do the brands they feature in their green edits have carbon reduction plans in all three scopes, for instance? In terms of working conditions, do they have a transparent supply chain? What percentage of their suppliers pay a minimum wage versus a living wage? Otherwise, it’s too easy to qualify a brand as “sustainable” based on a single attribute, rather than a more holistic approach, she said. Brands need to “talk more about what needs to be done: circular products, changing business models, offering services to prolong
“Every year we really look at our list of criteria with the support of external advisors to make sure that what we consider sustainable is really legitimate given the progress of the industry.” —FEDERICA LICINI, FARFETCH
the lifetime of products, climate justice, regenerative practices in raw material sourcing,” Lang added. “They need to talk about their impact and for whom is the impact made—for the brand reputation or the people or ecosystems involved in the production.” Multi-brand retailers lean on certifications because the alternative is taking brands at their word. But not all certifications are equal, Harding-Rolls said. A CMF analysis of nearly a dozen certification and voluntary schemes frequently used by brands to assess their sustainability efforts, published in April, criticized many of them as “unambitious, unaccountable, compromised talking shops that result in an industry-wide decoy for unsustainable practices, enabling sophisticated greenwashing on a vast scale.” Among them is the Higg Index, a widely adopted suite of tools, spearheaded by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), that is piloting consumerfacing scorecards with products’ social and environmental impacts. The CMF said the profiles, which are being trialed by brands such Triarchy as H&M and C&A, could be “interpreted to create confusion and a distraction for customers surrounding the sustainability claims made.” (The SAC said that its members are able to access “trusted, credible and scientifically rigorous tools,” which evolve to align with the latest science and data, to measure the impact of their product production.) “Certifications are great but certifications do not equal measurement per garment,” Taubenfligel said. “Having a third-party auditor assess and calculate the impact of every garment you’re making—where the fibers were grown, where the material was made, how it was dyed, how you shipped it to your factory, cut, sewed, washed—that’s tangible and transparent.” Certifications, he added, can also become stale. “Let’s say you got a certification in 2019,” Taubenfligel said. “In 2022, you're probably doing a lot of things very differently. And so maybe you’re updating the certification, but at the same time, why aren’t you just in real-time analyzing everything you make? It’s not that hard.” Some retailers have found that highlighting feel-good products can be profitable. While this can arouse cynicism on the one hand, it also signals genuine consumer appetite for valueadded merchandise on the other. According to Farfetch’s 2021 conscious luxury trends report, sales of Conscious-tagged products quadrupled
in 2020. (Its main line didn’t receive the same uplift, it said.) Since 2019, Nordstrom customers have nearly doubled their online searches for Sustainable Style. Macy’s was unable to disclose any information surrounding sales. Harding-Rolls said that multi-brand retailers who offer green edits need to be cleareyed and transparent about their selection benchmarks because they are “almost acting like a certification body themselves.” That means moving beyond buzzwords to detailed substantiation. It also means acknowledging blind spots such as polyester derived from downcycled plastic bottles, which he said is “not a particularly good thing” because the material cannot currently be re-recycled at scale and is, therefore, a circularity dead end. “Because you can say this is an eco-friendly jacket, but you also have to have a lot of small print explaining why it is eco-friendly,” he said. “Are you just talking about a part of it that's made from recycled materials? Or are you talking about the whole thing? And if you’re not talking about the whole thing, then you need to qualify that so you’re giving the customer a true picture of the extent to which you deem that product to be sustainable. It’s not sexy and it’s not marketing, but that’s what we’re dealing with.”
A D V E R T O R I A L
Bossa’s Journey Toward Zero Waste Due to rising environmental awareness and rapid consumption of natural resources worldwide, demand for recycled fiber usage is increasing. As a pioneer of change, Bossa has increased its use of recycled fibers in the raw material blend required for denim, and believes that this path will inspire other stakeholders in the industry, as well as companies producing denim in the medium term to adopt its zero-waste principle. Bossa continues to transparently report its production values in its "Towards Zero Waste" booklet. Özge Özsoy, marketing chief of Bossa, tells Rivet how the denim mill is revolutionizing technologies, remaining sustainable and advancing production, dyeing and recycling initiatives. Rivet: What’s new on the recycling front? Özge Özsoy: We commissioned our recycling plant the first quarter of 2022 and while it’s still under construction, we aim to have it operating at 100 percent capacity with new yarn investment over the next years. Currently, we use 7 percent of recycled fiber a month. We can mix recycled fiber to the blend at certain proportions. Currently, 30 percent of our production at Bossa is GRS certified, which is well above the industry average. As Bossa, we aim to operate the recycling facility at 100 percent capacity with the new yarn investment. Most of our colors are dyed with SAVEBLUE technology, saving 85 percent water compared to conventional dyeing, and we aim to increase this to more than 90 percent soon. Retailers are increasingly concerned with inclusivity when it comes to sizing. What type of technologies, fabrications and collections has Bossa developed in response? Ö.Ö.: Bossa's R&D team did a lot of work for the best performance, high-power stretch denim. We have two concepts with this technology that will result in less water, less energy, less microplastics and less CO2 on the environmental footprint. One is EVER FIT. EVER FIT Denim, which offers exceptional flexibility, maximum comfort and great recovery performance thanks to innovative technology by Bossa. This technology allows
“Our future denim items are 100 percent sustainable.”
for extra wear between washes, recovering the fit after wearing. The other, XUPPLE STRETCH, offers responsive stretch technology with high elasticity. Many body image stereotypes are being broken these days through the fashion evolution, and based on research, “clothing size” is a consumer mental block. Xupple stretch support consumers to focus on confidence and happiness rather than measurements. Xupple Stretch fabrics maintain a soft feel and natural touch without losing their authentic denim look. What are some of Bossa’s latest brand collaborations? Ö.Ö.: One is with Reformation, The Circular Denim range. The Circular Denim range is the result of Reformation’s collaboration with Bossa and Strom. Strom uses ozone technology that significantly reduces the laundry’s water, chemicals and energy consumption, while we are developing a zero-waste life cycle to close the loop. All fabrics in the Good American x Zara collection are from Bossa and fully sustainable. We use ecologically grown, organic and recycled cotton, and sustainable fibers like Tencel in the blends, and Bossa’s EVER FIT denims for sizing. Another collaboration is Triarchy x Josephine Skriver. The fabric of this collaboration is one of Bossa's Future Denim items. Organic Cotton, Tencel and Naia Renew, a cellulosic staple fiber from Eastman, are used in the blend of this Future Denim item. How does Bossa’s Future Denim create items for the future of denim? Ö.Ö.: Our Future Denim items are 100 percent sustainable. Sustainable fibers and sustainable dyeing techniques are used in the production of Bossa Future Denims. We have future denim qualities in every season, and their constructions are created according to the trends we aim for each season.
ME TAV ERSE TK
Silver Jeans Co.
MORE ISSUES THAN VOGUE Port delays, sky-high freight rates and geopolitical uncertainty have kept denim companies on their toes, but supply chain overhauls might help navigate future landmines. w o r ds _ _ _ _ _ KARI HAMANAKA
Denim factory Saitex USA was in the middle of
construction on its Los Angeles facility when the pandemic began. That didn’t stop the company from pushing forward to obtain permits and set up machines. About a year later, with the operating environment still uncertain and supply chain issues mounting, Saitex bowed its factory, marking the company’s first expansion outside its Vietnam headquarters. Its facility, which it dubbed the “factory of the future,” was symbolic of more than just the direction denim making is taking via technology, but also steps ahead of the now mammoth shifts occurring across companies’ supply chains as everything from diversified sourcing and nearshoring, to rejiggering warehouse networks and re-routing shipments is considered. “The state of the denim industry has normalized, but the costs for raw materials and freight have remained high,” said Kathy Kweon, Saitex USA president. “Fabric and trims costs have increased 15 to 25 percent and we don’t see those costs ever going back to where they were. If producers were able to charge these higher prices, then why would they ever agree to accept less? The major shipping disruptions that caused the supply shortages domestically have mostly stabilized and we are seeing a lot fewer delays these days. The only thing that hasn’t increased is the import duties.” While companies are not enduring the same issues as 2020 or 2021, the country’s fragile
goods movement system faces a war in Ukraine that’s seen fuel prices rise and the start of labor contract talks in May for dockworkers at West Coast ports as the July 1 expiration on the current deal looms. Shippers had already been re-routing cargo to alternative ports because of the pandemic, but that behavior has continued to bypass congestion and in anticipation of a possible disruption arising out of prolonged labor talks, given that occurred in three of the last four negotiations. Everstream Analytics, which provides supply chain risk management analytics, found the San Pedro Bay port complex has shown signs of congestion easing—a key issue for shippers the past couple years—but wait times have begun to rise at Houston, Mobile, Ala., Charleston, N.C. and other Gulf and East Coast ports.
DIFFERENT SIZE SOLUTIONS
As with anything, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all supply chain approach. Women’s denim brand Triarchy was able to manage through the past couple years seemingly insulated from many of the supply chain snafus with an already lean way of operating, suggesting there’s more to green than environmental. “A really important thing for us is trying to reduce the distance between our vendors and, as much as I hate the word ‘sustainable,’ that’s a part of our way to reduce carbon emissions with the product,” said Adam Taubenfligel,
CORE AMBITIONS Never-out-of-stock programs have helped denim businesses hedge against supply chain headwinds. Risk averse. That’s the new operating behavior that’s emerged out of the pandemic and, while disciplined companies have always anticipated worst-case scenarios in strategizing, that’s never been more so the case than now when it comes to inventory. Denim brands have taken cover under the safety net that core or best-selling stock offer over trendier, seasonal assortments. The strategy, also referred to as never-out-of-stock programs, employs a philosophy of stocking up on classic styles buyers can be assured of always being available, regardless of whatever the current supply chain constraints may be. Brands, meanwhile, can buy earlier. “Being in denim versus being in winter coats or bathing suits, they’re long, blue bottoms. And so, we’ve taken the strategy with most of our accounts that maybe we don’t have the new style that you were looking for, but if we had the old one, we still have product that’s shippable and sellable to the consumer. “So, we were never out of business because something didn’t come; we just shifted the supply to what you have is the best thing that’s available for now and when you get something new it’ll be available whenever it arrives,” said Mark Lamont, Silver Jeans Co. chief operating officer in explaining the company’s decision to invest in larger inventories of its best-selling, classic denim styles. Larger brands have employed similar tactics, including Guess Inc. investing in what CEO Carlos Alberini said are “more timeless assortments, like essentials, which gives us the capacity to support higher demand without taking significant inventory risk.” Similarly, Levi Strauss & Co.’s U.S. business is mainly driven by core products and, as CEO Chip Bergh put it, that’s “a huge advantage when you think about some of the headwinds that we’re facing, that the whole industry is facing, from a supply chain standpoint.”
“The logistics lead times will be long for this year. That is just a fact of the industry.” —SONIA SYNGAL, GAP INC.
Triarchy co-founder and creative director. “So, our factory is a five-hour drive from our mill. In terms of getting our materials, there’s not really any delays. It just gets on a truck within the same country. All the other things we bring in we haven’t had issues with.” Triarchy, which has its factory and mill in Turkey, also hasn’t had to implement, major organizational shifts with its product
development and sourcing teams or rely on never-out-of-stock programs because the label’s assortment is already distilled into core pieces. Taubenfligel sees that as another reflection of running a sustainable brand. “A really big part of the decision-making process is just how do we do more with less because we have so much less to choose from if we are being strict with this lens,” he said. “In my whole collection we don’t use more than 10 fabrics and most of the time we don’t run that many. I keep it really lean because we find fabrics that work and tell the stories we want to tell.” The one pain point Triarchy hasn’t been able to skirt are the increased freight costs, which Taubenfligel said have ranged from 10 percent to 15 percent. The company’s not the only one. A raft of publicly traded denim companies have seen margin compression from higher costs. Gap Inc.—owner of its namesake brand, in addition to Old Navy, Banana Republic and Athleta— noted a $430 million, or 240-basis point, drag on its adjusted operating margin
at the close of its fiscal year ended Jan. 29 due to air freight costs. Gap Inc. sought to avoid the eight- to 10-week delays it encountered last year by increasing nearshoring production in Mexico and Latin America, while moving up booking deadlines for spring and summer 2022 merchandise. The company, specific to Old Navy, ramped up use of digital production to create more efficiencies in the development process and plans to continue doing so for its other brands. The moves for Old Navy led to a 75 percent reduction in development samples for the Fall 2022 line and slashed the overall time of the product development process by 40 percent from Fall 2021. The company is also diverting most of its product through ports in the South and East Coast as it looks to avoid the sluggish West Coast. Gap Inc. CEO Sonia Syngal didn’t sugarcoat the situation for 2022 when she updated analysts at the end of the company’s fiscal year, saying “The logistics lead times will be long for this year. That is just a fact of the industry.”
A D V E R T O R I A L
Enhancing Denim Speed to Market, Product Quality with PLM As denim brands manufacture more products to cater to different style and size demands, the stakes to improve quality control and get the right merchandise to the right consumer are intensified. Celia Newhouse, corporate content director at Centric Software, fills Rivet in on where product lifecycle management (PLM) solutions can aid the denim production process by helping designers and developers react quickly to market changes, improve decision making and produce collections faster. Rivet: Like other apparel categories, denim has had to adapt to an increasingly digital retail environment. Where does PLM fit in to help these brands sell in multiple distribution channels, whether it be e-commerce, brick-and-mortar or wholesale? Celia Newhouse: Retailers must be prepared to sell their products via multiple distribution channels, as evidenced during the pandemic. E-commerce was booming, brickand-mortar stores were closing, and retailers had to be reactive to ensure products were shipped to the right channels. The brands that flourished most during market instability were the ones with modern technology, like Centric PLM and Retail Planning, as it allowed them to effectively allocate and replenish stock to ensure optimal inventory levels across all channels. In your experience, how has PLM been important in assisting your denim brand partners through the production process? C.N.: Centric’s PLM solution plays an essential role for our denim brand partners in organizing their pre-production, which ultimately leads to a smooth production process. For efficient production, you need to have good communication with vendors, the right type and quantity of materials and contingency plans for when things go wrong.
“Without a PLM solution, data sits in disparate systems, leading to costly mistakes and delays.”
Without a PLM solution, data sits in disparate systems (spreadsheets, share drives, emails, etc.) where it is outdated and inaccurate, leading to costly mistakes and delays. In essence, PLM paves the road for perfect production with high accuracy and minimal waste. On the retailer side, how can these technologies help merchants improve denim assortment planning, particularly amid changing consumer habits? C.N.: Consumers are always looking for the latest trends, plus they increasingly demand more choices—variations, colors, treatments, etc.—and they expect all of this to happen quite quickly. To keep up with a growing list of SKUs, retailers must find ways to speed these processes up. Centric PLM provides the technology and digital infrastructure to react quickly to market changes, produce denim collections faster and keep their customers happy. Consumers are also more conscious of the environmental impacts of their choices, including their clothing, so they’re looking for greener alternatives. This is especially important for denim, as we know it takes an average of 1,800 gallons of water to produce a single pair of jeans. Centric PLM provides the technology, such as integration with the Higg Index, to equip merchants with the data they need to make greener and more sustainable material choices. Where are fashion retailers and brands still struggling when it comes to bringing the right products to market? C.N.: Many brands still rely on manual systems like spreadsheets, which hinders the decision-making process as one piece of data might have 20 different trackers, or the data might be outdated and invalid. It doesn’t matter how qualified or intelligent an executive is, if they’re relying on poor data, they will inevitably make poor decisions. Rather than combing through countless spreadsheets, PLM provides that single source of truth that takes out the guesswork. Furthermore, data syndication eliminates the need for manual entry in multiple places; PLM pushes data to necessary systems (ERP, PIM, e-commerce, etc.) providing decision makers with accurate data at their fingertips.
Data from the Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA) show a continued diversification of sourcing from other countries. U.S. Jeans imports from countries such as Egypt, Colombia, Vietnam, India and Tunisia ticked up in March, according to OTEXA data released in May, with total denim imports up 37.6 percent in March from the year-ago period to $965.3 million. Sourcing away from China has worked well for Levi Strauss & Co., particularly in relation to the rolling lockdowns seen this year in different parts of China as a result of the country’s zeroCovid policy. Levi President and CEO Chip Bergh assured investors in April the lockdowns are not expected to have an impact on the business, with China accounting for about five percent of Levi’s overall production and about 1 percent of those goods bound for the U.S. market. Supply chain-related transportation costs led to a 210-basis point impact for Kontoor Brands Inc. in the quarter ended April 2. Kontoor, which owns Wrangler and Lee, also cited higher transit costs in its May quarterly update, including the price of air freight. “Beyond the war in Ukraine, we also recognize the many ongoing global macroeconomic challenges, the mandatory Covid lockdowns in China, inflationary pressures and supply chain disruptions, all weighing on the global operating environment,” Kontoor president and CEO Scott Baxter told analysts. At Guess Inc., raw material and increased freight rates are expected to come at a cost of 200 74
basis points in the first half of the current fiscal year. The company built higher prices into its forecasting models through the rest of this year. It also held off on promotions and increased retail prices last year in response to the supplydemand imbalance.
That’s on top of an agreement with Maersk for carbon neutral transport of its products and the hiring of Allan Kjærgaard as its first director of logistics to handle duties previously under the CFO’s purview. “Globally, but especially here in America, we spent the last 50- or 60-years consolidating warehousing to middle America where land and labor were inexpensive. Now, the consumer has demanded everything in their hand, same day or next day, and that means you have to reconsolidate or intentionally fragment your supply chain, your warehousing, out to what’s nearest your customer,” said Aaron Peck, founder and CEO of last mile freight tech marketplace Mothership Technologies Inc. The company, which got its start in Los Angeles’ fashion district, just raised $76 million to expand on its thesis that short haul, same day delivery is the standard. “There’s so much inter-city movement,” Peck said of short-haul deliveries servicing fashion within the denim capital, pointing to the multiple transportation steps required from factory to screen printer or dye house and then on to a retailer or, say, concert venue in the case of merchandise. Clearly, a major overhaul is being had. “The whole manufacturing system has changed,” Saitex’s Kweon said. Saitex is trying its best to tamp down on higher prices to its customers by increasing the
“I keep it really lean because we find fabrics that work and tell the stories we want to tell.” —ADAM TAUBENFLIGEL, TRIARCHY
Efficiency is key as companies prepare for a future in which speed dictates everything from the first to last mile. Denmark-based multibrand portfolio owner Bestseller made big moves last year as it makes good on efforts to bolster its supply chain. Chief financial officer Thomas Børglum Jensen said, “Logistics has never been more important for companies” when Bestseller revealed late last year plans to build a Netherlands logistics center. The company, which operates more than 20 brands, said the facility will total more than 1.1 million square feet and be operational by early 2026. It comes on the heels of the opening of a logistics center in Spain.
size of its U.S. warehouse to accommodate more fabric and creating two to three sewing lines instead of one. The goal is faster production and shorter lead times. And, as companies such as Gap said, producing closer to home is making more sense in the face of goods movement headwinds. Saitex was able to transfer some of its orders in Vietnam to the U.S. factory during the pandemic, a move that’s proven to be more than a temporary measure. Added Kweon: “The ongoing lockdowns in Vietnam and across Asia seemed to be a catalyst for brands to move towards nearshore production and we saw an increase in demand for ‘Made in the USA.’”
A D V E R T O R I A L
More than Manufacturing: Delivering Denim for the Next Generation Calik Denim operates its business with the mantra “Passion for Denim, Passion for Life.” With aims to build an eco-friendly business that leaves a better world for future generations, the company wants to not only produce more sustainable jeans, but to give young potential denim professionals an opportunity to hone their craft. Tolga Ozkurt, deputy general manager of sales and marketing, discussed the manufacturer’s sustainability strategies, its handling of the supply chain crisis and its partnership with the House of Denim’s Jean School. Rivet: What consumer trends have your retail partners been seeing thus far in 2022, and how are you catering to these demands? Tolga Ozkurt: Due to the depletion of water and raw materials like cotton, consumers are demanding products that have been developed and produced with an ecofriendly and eco-conscious mindset. In short, cotton alternatives like cottonized hemp, linen and nettle are trending, and regenerative cotton and organic farming now play a key role. At Calik, we are using pre- and post-consumer recycled cotton, and researching and conducting trials to use fewer chemicals, less water and less energy. We’re also maximizing use of ecoconscious versions of fibers such as EcoLycra, REFIBRA and RCY/REPREVE PES. Overall, we are developing premium fabrics for customers based on their needs while keeping a low impact on the environment.
How has your team been navigating supply chain constraints and delivery delays over the past year? T.O.: We believe Calik managed production time frames better last year compared to other fabric suppliers because we prepared with more recycled and organic raw materials in stock. The fact that we had our raw material in our stock system allowed us to use it more quickly and efficiently without having to waste time waiting for stock to come in. Also, we are an integrated premises, spinning our own open-end and ring yarn at our factory in Malatya, Turkey. When the yarn is ready, we dye it in our warp dyeing factory before weaving the fabric. We also have a denim finishing factory in Malatya. After the fabric goes through finish, we take it through our own quality system and package the fabric so it is ready for shipping. Calik provided fabrics for the Stretch Yourself collection for the House of Denim’s Jean School. What drove your mill to participate in this program? T.O.: At Calik Denim, we’re passionate about lending a helping hand in all ways possible. This is especially when it comes to the new generation, as they are the future of the denim industry. Therefore, we collaborated with fashion schools around the world as part of our Transformation Lab, which supports our “Passion for Denim, Passion for Life” sustainability strategy. We are delighted to be a part of the Stretch Yourself project, which was designed and managed with excellent professionalism by House of Denim. We collaborated with the students for the presentation of our product, and had a pleasant and fruitful meeting with them. Afterwards, students prepared amazing looks with the fabrics of our Selfsized concept.
“The fact that we had our raw material in our stock system allowed us to use it more quickly and efficiently.” Calik recently developed the E-Last technology to prevent shrinkage in the production process. Can you explain the benefits of the technology? T.O.: Normally conventional high-stretch articles suitable for skinny and slim fits have high shrinkage values typically ranging between -18 percent and -22 percent. This means that at the garmentmaking stage, patterns need to be made accordingly and different laundry processes require different sized patterns for the same fabric, resulting in more time and energy and material usage. With E-Last, the weft shrinkage values of high-elasticity fabrics are limited between 0 percent and -3.5 percent intervals, which is the same as the weft shrinkage values for rigid articles.
Denim retail titans double down on warehousing space and fulfillment technologies.
Levi's distribution center in Germany
Denim retail titans double down on warehousing space and fulfillment technologies. w o r ds _____GLENN TAYLOR
If retailers could take a lesson from the gridlock
at the ports and at sea since 2020, it’s that they need more visibility and control over their own supply chains. With factory closures and shipping delays still pervasive, merchants must invest in technologies and warehousing capabilities to expedite the fulfillment process. In the denim realm, the top retailers are taking strides to bolster their distribution capabilities, particularly as e-commerce spending escalates. Levi Strauss & Co., Gap Inc., American Eagle Outfitters and Abercrombie & Fitch are among the businesses putting their money where their mouth is, showing the rest of the industry that visibility can improve if the proper investments are made. The Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on e-commerce sales has been well documented. In essence, the market conditions and new consumer demands forced brands and retailers to rethink the way they retail and distribute product, said Liza Amlani, Retail Strategy Group principal and founder. “Planning was put in the spotlight as speed to market became top priority,” Amlani said. “Reducing the reliance on seasonal planning and getting closer to the customer is the only way to stay relevant.”
LEVI STRAUSS & CO.
Levi Strauss & Co. (LS&Co.) has made a concerted effort to stay on top of things with the expansion of its distribution network, starting last year with the renovation of its
Henderson, Nev. distribution center. The center was designed to bring together the denim icon’s retail, wholesale and e-commerce fulfillment capabilities under one roof. Taking over the Henderson distribution center’s second floor, the LS&Co. team transformed more than 100,000 square feet of open space into a warehouse that could serve the West Coast’s e-commerce business. With the renovation, LS&Co. can transfer items within one warehouse and cut lead times, ultimately improving in-stock availability. “We essentially built a warehouse within a warehouse,” said Ben Elwood, LS&Co. director of distribution operations. “Prior to this launch, goods were double handled and transported to a new third-party facility. By bringing all the fulfillment operations into one building, we cut off about two weeks of inbound lead-time and introduce more operational flexibility.” But LS&Co. wasn’t done there. The denim giant is upgrading an existing 575,000-squarefoot distribution center in Erlanger, Ky., in a similar $48 million investment specifically for East Coast e-commerce orders. Work on the project is expected began in February and is expected to be completed for operations in early 2023. In Europe, Levi’s is building a 750,000square-foot omnichannel distribution facility in Dorsten, Germany that is to open in 2024. Its centralized location in Europe can help the retailer expand its capacity to address accelerated sales growth across channels. The
facility will manage the distribution of apparel, accessories and footwear across wholesale, retail, digital, e-commerce and marketplace channels.
ABERCROMBIE & FITCH
Like LS&Co., Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F) sees significant value in warehousing hubs to bolster its back-end capabilities. The denim-centric apparel retailer is opening a 715,000-squarefoot distribution center in Goodyear, Ariz. this year, which will serve as the brand’s hub for the West Coast. A&F will share the distribution center will with current supply chain partner GXO Logistics, which specifies in warehouse management and emerging opportunities such as e-commerce expansion, logistics automation and supply chain outsourcing. The new DC is the third for A&F, which already has two facilities in its home base of New Albany, Ohio. The automated facility will feature automation, including goods-to-person robots designed to help teammates increase productivity and improve safety. Intelligent analytics, including AI and machine learning, will also be deployed at the site to deliver fast, efficient distribution of products. Neither company revealed the specific parameters of the goods-to-person robots, but these kinds of systems are built to augment and support the existing workforce without having to continually add incremental costs. That way, the projected 300 employees at the West Coast 77
GXO's robotics for Abercrombie & Fitch
hub won’t have to worry about the security of their job position, particularly as the robotics technology continues to expand across the site. GAP INC. Gap Inc. is looking to rebound with the help of investments both in the fulfillment arena as well as technology acquisitions. In 2021, the Old Navy and Gap parent unveiled plans to open a 850,000-square-foot state-of-theart Customer Experience Center in Longview, Tex. The $140 million DC is being built to help Gap Inc. meet the rising customer demand for online shopping and deliver inventory faster and more efficiently to customers nationwide. The Longview facility will initially serve Old Navy’s growing online business upon its completion in August, and will be able to process up to 1 million units per day. The campus will supplement the retailer’s six existing campuses in North America, including those in Fresno, Calif; Phoenix; Groveport, Ohio; Gallatin, Tenn.; Fishkill, N.Y.; and Brampton, Ontario. Beyond its fulfillment ambitions, Gap Inc. also acquired two software firms last year: AIbased retail store operations technology ContextBased 4 Casting Ltd. (CB4), 3D fit technology and virtual fitting room Drapr. CB4 is built to identify cracks in store execution to help retailers bolster brick-andmortar operations, increase sales and improve the customer experience through predictive analytics and demand sensing. The technology specifically targets issues such as a product not being visible (or left in the stock room), pricing mismatches, out-of-stocks, inventory discrepancies and even missing promotion labels. The platform sends store managers push notifications when products in their stores are failing to sell to demand, and shares information on what may be causing low sales. While many of these problems are storerelated, Gap Inc.’s ability to empower better execution at its own stores may declutter many of the inventory bottlenecks. CB4 estimates that its platform can restore 0.5 percent to 2 percent of a retailer’s bottom line. 78
And Drapr might not be viewed as a supply chain technology on the surface, but it could play a key role in cutting down retail’s $761 million problem: returns. Gap Inc. CEO Sonia Syngal said in an earnings call last year that the deal came to fruition specifically to address this inefficiency. Drapr reports that its fit technology, which enables customers to create 3D avatars and virtually try on clothing, helps brands achieve a 26 percent returns reduction on average by getting more shoppers in the right size on the first try. Even though they have struggled in recent years, Gap Inc.’s cash flow has allowed it to branch out with outside-the-box tech acquisitions. The merchant has approximately $877 million in cash and cash equivalents as of Jan. 29. “The apparel retailers doing deals are operating from a position of strength in that they are cash rich and operationally lean from the pandemic and subsequent upswing in consumer spending,” said Neil Saunders, GlobalData managing director, retail. “They are actively looking for things to invest in which can boost their growth and/or improve their efficiency.” AMERICAN EAGLE OUTFITTERS American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) is in the same boat as Gap Inc. as far as having deep pockets, with $435 million in cash as of Jan. 29, even after two major acquisitions of its own. AEO went the logistics route with its purchases in 2021, scooping up middle- and last-mile delivery services startup AirTerra and then online order fulfillment services provider Quiet Logistics. After the AirTerra deal, AEO executive vice president and chief operating officer Michael Rempell said on last year’s second-quarter earnings call that the acquisition “completely fits with our strategy of leveraging scale and innovation to help us manage costs and improve service…they have a tremendous pipeline of brands and retailers, large and small, that all want to use AirTerra. The more people that get on, it helps to build the AirTerra business as well as support the American Eagle business providing economies of scale and transportation benefits for us.”
AirTerra founder Brent Beaubout highlighted the importance of cooperation between retailers, further adding credence to AEO’s decision to operate a business that supports the back-end of other merchants. “Fortunately, retailers have a lifeline: each other,” Beaubout said. “While competing for the hearts, minds and wallets of consumers on the front-end, they can gain economies of scale in fulfillment and shipping by cooperating on the back end. The goal of this model of ‘co-opetition’ is to aggregate relationships and bring scale and efficiency to the business of moving products through the supply chain.” As of AEO’s most recent earnings call in March, the Quiet Logistics deal is already paying significant dividends for the denim retailer, with the platform’s fulfillment model fueling savings for the company. Delivery costs saw a 190-basis-point (1.9-percentage-point) decrease this quarter, driven by a significant reduction in shipments per order. Rempell noted that AEO saw an approximately 35 percent reduction in delivery times on a year-over-year basis, bringing benefits to both the retailer’s customers and its operations. The chief operating officer said he expected to see even greater savings as Quiet Logistics expands its note network. “The combination of Quiet Logistics and AirTerra also creates a state-of-the-art supply chain platform that we will look to monetize by growing its third-party customer base,” Rempell said. “Since announcing the acquisition, we've received tremendous interest from retailers of all sizes…Our initial conversations with other brands and retailers are extremely positive. I'm very encouraged by what I'm hearing. I'm very encouraged that we're going to get significant brands and retailers to want to sign up and join us in this because they see the value and they see the opportunity.” AEO expects that the Quiet Logistics acquisition will bring in “a few hundred million dollars of revenue this year,” according to Rempell, making the company a likely breakeven business in the long run. Both AEO and Gap essentially bought expertise and solutions that help them improve the efficiency of their e-commerce businesses, Saunders said. “Buying, rather than building, these solutions was smart since the technology can be quickly integrated into their systems and start paying dividends,” Saunders said. “That said, while there is nothing wrong with buying solutions, all retailers should look to have their own in-house innovation incubators that generate new ideas and solutions rather than just relying on buying other companies. Great brands like Apple and Amazon have very strong internal innovation which complements any technologies they acquire.”
A D V E R T O R I A L
Denim Shaped by Fusing of WorkSocial-Leisure Spaces With operations in 13 countries, countless brand clients and more than 1,150 employees, Asmara has a global view on both the denim world and apparel at large. Here, Avdhesh Sharma, Group CEO of Asmara, discusses how the merging of work-social-leisure spaces is shaping lifestyle, how comfort clothing is bridging the gap between athleisure/lounge and daily wear, and what this means for denim. Rivet: What consumer trends are influencing your brand partners and how are you responding? Avdhesh Sharma: Fashion is shifting toward cleaner, minimalist pieces and focus is on value through combinations rather than statement pieces. Dressing up is gaining momentum but not at the expense of comfort. Consumers are increasingly demanding durable clothes with enhanced performance, as well as additional finishes like UV protection/antimicrobial for daily usage, a trend once commonly used only in outerwear. Product lifecycle is increasingly important, and packaging and wash treatments are becoming equally sustainable. Asmara is responding with durable and functional products in sustainable materials. Rigid denim has taken off lately, but what about the enduring appeal of stretch denim? A.S.: Trends for oversized silhouettes aiding comfort, gender neutrality and flexibility to create formal pieces in denim are driving rigid denim. Upon use, rigid fabrics take shape according to the wearer’s body, fade with
continuous usage reaching personalized looks, and last longer than stretch denim. That said, denim makers are continuously innovating to improve the natural stretch and comfort of rigid denim without additional stretch yarn. Women’s fit is getting more relaxed so the need for stretch is decreasing, but for men’s comfort, stretch is here to stay. Stretch denim is increasingly using T400 for better recovery. Rigid will never replace stretch, however, and as consumers get back to working in person, comfort stretch jeans will see a revival.
“Rigid will never replace stretch. And as consumers get back to working in person, comfort stretch jeans will see a revival.” How has your team been handling supply chain constraints and delivery delays over the past year? A.S.: We have managed supply chain constraints by reducing dependence of material suppliers and logistic partners by cultivating a healthy portfolio of suppliers well ahead of time; adjusting the seasonal calendar with customers; creating material blocks for material platforming; prebooking cargo space; persuading customers to accept early shipments without waiting for contractual ETD dates; and maintaining deliveries by transferring orders between Asmara’s multi-country locations to bypass unforeseen Covid-related lockdowns. What can you apply from Asmara’s other apparel operations to denim production? A.S.: First and foremost, we have increased the sustainability quotient of denim apparel. Following are other feasible applications for denim, that can be adapted from other apparel operations: Functional finishes like antimicrobial and quick-dry; 3D design to create realistic wash effects for denim; reducing metal trims to help recycling; printing on PFD fabrics to create denim looks that achieve comparable wash effects of real denim; using fibers like hemp and Tencel to move away from cotton as the main denim ingredient; adopting seamless technology to create seamless comfortable apparel. What are some new developments on the fashion/technology side and how are these achieved in a more sustainable way? A.S.: Following tech advancements trending in the fashion world, we are addressing the dual needs of speed and sustainability. Digital sampling has allowed consumers to try on clothes virtually, just as you would in a store, and for us, this innovative solution has reduced the need to create physical samples thereby saving time, energy and resources. Alternative textile materials like vegan pineapple leather, linen from flax plant fibers, seawool and natural fibers like lyocell and hemp have grown in usage, and conscious brands and designers are also making ethical clothing with biodegradable cork, bamboo and even seaweed. Other tech developments include 3D design software, virtual showrooms and digital color matching.
ME TAV ERSE TK
THE SHOWS GO ON The global denim industry relished opportunities to meet and gather this spring at Kingpins Amsterdam and Denim Première Vision in Berlin. w o r d s _____ ANGELA VELASQUEZ
Kingpins Amsterdam kicked off the Fall/Winter
23-24 season for the global denim industry in April at its new venue, SugarCity. With Amsterdam home to the Denim Deal, experts were on hand to discuss the initiative calling for a new industry standard of using 5 percent post-consumer recycled cotton in the production of all denim garments. The public-private initiative was established by the Dutch Government in October 2020, following the EU Green Deal and Circular Action Plan, and includes more than 40 signatories like PVH Europe, Scotch & Soda and Kings of Indigo on the brand side, as well as Calik Denim, Ereks and Recover from the supply chain. “The government can’t do it by themselves,” said Arnoud Passenier, strategic international advisor at the International Department of Netherlands’ Ministry of Infrastructure and Water. “The industry has to innovate and collaborate. We can help them as a partner with setting up the right frameworks, but also by connecting with other governments.” He added that the group has met with government officials in Germany, Turkey and 80
Tonello showcases how to achieve denim’s biggest trends through sustainable technology at Kingpins Amsterdam.
Pakistan to discuss how to set up a similar system for collection and recycling. While sustainability is “always the focus,” Dorlet CEO Thibault Greuzat said customers at Kingpins were asking for “something that could make jeans different.” Diablo, the French trims manufacturer’s removeable button concept, addresses both needs. Along with making it easier for consumers to recycle jeans at the end of their lifecycle, the interchangeable buttons provide brands with an opportunity to tell customers a customization story. Buttons made with raw materials, like wood, brass and copper without plating were part of Dorlet’s collection. Desert Studio’s 360-degree compostable jean is the result of several collaborations. The Dubai-based denim laundry worked with multiple partners to develop the jean made with biodegradable fabric, souped-up Tencel thread, bioplastic polymer buttons and chromeand chemical-free goat leather labeling. Desert Studio sales manager Andrea Duffi said the jeans compost in three to six months. Though 100 percent recycled cotton jeans seemed like a distant dream just years ago, this was an area of focus for several mills.
Advance Denim showed 100 percent recycled cotton fabrics, as well as fabrics with nylon from recycled fishing nets. Blue Diamond presented its variation of 100 percent recycled cotton fabrics made with a combination of short staple recycled cotton fiber blended with long staple cotton waste from the spinning process. Blue Diamond is also teaming with Simply Suzette founder Ani Wells on a collection of jeans sewed and sustainably washed in Los Angeles and is navigating the high demand for soft hand feels with OW Lux, a fabric that looks open end but is ring-ring for a stronger and softer product. For Bangladesh’s Beximco, the material sciences company Recover Textile Systems that is bringing high-quality recycled cotton to brands like C&A and Primark, is the key to circularity. The vertical company teamed with Recover to become the world’s largest collector and recycler of textile waste. It’s a strategic and necessary move, according to Syed Naved Husain, Beximco CEO and group director. Growing organic cotton is hard on farmers, the cost of land is increasing, and acreage will be required to help the grain shortage
M E T ASVOEURRSCE I NT GK
due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, he said. Additionally, Recover offers a “good-looking product,” is cost neutral and scores a 1 on the Higg Index, he added. Comfort is the backbone of two technologies The Lycra Company presented at the show: Adaptive fiber and Dual Comfort. Lycra Adaptive is patent-pending polymer with a unique chemistry allowing it to adjust to a wearer’s functional needs. The polymer adapts its compressive holding force to deliver the right fit, shape and control when the wearer is at rest. When the wearer is in motion, the polymer adjusts its elasticity to provide improved comfort and a second-skin effect that allows the garment to stay in place. This also means Lycra Adaptive fiber helps jeans fit more body shapes within a given size. Lycra Dual Comfort, which launched in February, provides comfortable stretch and cooling with long-lasting shape retention. The fiber was a part of Naveena Denim Mills’ Dualistic collection of elastane-free everyday fabrics offering up to 35 percent elasticity. The proprietary combination of Lycra T400 and a special finishing process delivers the
texture and appearance of a spun yarn with high mechanical stretch, recovery, durability, and moisture management properties. Naveena’s Dualistic fabrics are also available with Lycra T400 with EcoMade, a version made with 68 percent recycled and renewable materials. And for creative inspiration, Naveena teamed with Tencel, Officina +39 and U.K. studio Endrime to develop Future Cellulosic—a circular collection with special attention to removable buttons and circle bar tacks so the garments can be recycled. “Designing a circular economy requires a shared vision and actions to support it,” said Aydan Tuzun, Naveena Denim Mills executive director of sales and marketing. “The outcome of this collaboration is not just only amazing denim with authenticity but also an invitation to all to close the loop together.” Endrime was also behind Cone Denim’s “Nothing Goes to Waste” collection made with the mill’s 100 percent recycled fabrics. Designed with zero-waste open-sourced patterns, the collection spans three types of 5-pocket jeans, a Trucker jacket, outerwear and work shirt all sustainably finished with Jeanologia’s technologies.
Alongside its new U.S. hemp collection, Cone presented fabrics with linen-inspired textures, no-fade indigo modal in workwear violet shades and new hues of icy gray and blue that speak to fashion brightening up. The absence of indigo was the main story in Crescent Bahuman Ltd.’s Blue Infinity innovation. The proprietary dyeing technology provides a variety of shades and washdown effects beyond what is normally achievable with conventional indigo applications. Using GOTS 6.0-approved chemicals and 70 percent less water and energy than the standard indigo dye process, the warp dyeing technology meets RSL requirements from major brands and retailers. It also reportedly produces fewer effluents and pollutants than standard indigo. Rudolf Group’s Hub 1922 linked up with Hiroshima-based design studio Labor Made Inc. for a collection of reimagined denim icons made with Rudolf’s Offuel products, a collection of chemical auxiliaries for denim finishing that use crude oil alternatives and recycled components. The “crown jewel” of the product range is Rucogen Upcycle RNB, a dispersing agent specific for denim washing based on chemically recycled post-consumer PET plastic waste. Using Kaihara’s 13-ounce selvedge denim made with a blend of conventional cotton and pre-consumer waste cotton, the collection spanned versions of the Type 1 jacket, chinos, wide-leg jeans, caps and children’s jeans. Trims like recycled back patches, removable donuts (instead of buttons), pocket bags made from vintage Japanese Yukata and hand-stamped labels emphasized the ways brands can achieve an authentic and traditional look in more sustainable ways. Italian finishing technology provider Tonello touted the benefits of its All-In-One-System. Equipped with NoStone, Core, UP and EcoFree2 technologies, the integrated garment finishing system offers companies the innovation and flexibility to sustainably move on emerging trends. Meanwhile, Tonello’s Metro software provides the analysis, control and evaluation of real process data. Chemical specialist Officina +39 is all about adding innovation that complements exiting advancements as well. As part of its Aqualess Mission, a combination of technologies that allows garment laundry processes to use 75 percent less water, the company introduced Aqualess Fade. The technology recreates the bleaching effect of chlorine on fabrics without water and high temperatures. The Italian company also highlighted a new way to apply its circular Recycrom dyestuff with a gel application instead of water, and new leather effects for the dye. While sustainability took top billing at the show, trends and creative concepts that plug 81
SOURCING into consumers’ post-pandemic lifestyles also captured attention. Denim Dudes outlined F/W 23-24 themes, spanning mood-enhancing colors and playful silhouettes to a Gen Z take on ’90s Glastonbury hippie style. Clothing with protective qualities— be it durable or cocooning in nature—was seen across the themes as biker jackets and jeans with exoskeletons that double as armor and paredback workwear silhouettes for everyday wear. Carhartt’s recent surge in popularity is just one reason why brands are looking more closely into workwear as casualwear. With utility and durability being key drivers in women’s and men’s fashion, Sapphire Finishing Mills Limited and Cordura linked up to develop a capsule collection reimagined for “today’s urban living and crossover lifestyles.” Cordura NYCO fabrics are at the center of the hard-wearing collection, which features more than 20 variations of canvas, twill and ripstop weaves and finishes including wax coatings and DWR. The fabrics combine the comfort of cotton, the durability of nylon 6,6 and engineered stretch and recovery properties. Though the designs are contemporary, the vertically integrated non-denim woven mill—the largest in Pakistan—and ingredient brand drew parallels between moments in workwear history and the modern needs of consumers on the go. The Gold Rush inspired versatile pieces like a lined shacket and waxed canvas jacket. A classic unisex Trucker jacket nods to farm and ranch life, while a sleek field jacket finished with insect repellant fuses the tactical and fishing clothing markets. The collection takes a sharper turn into streetwear with a trendy coverall and jogger pant. Advance Denim leaned into the Y2K movement sweeping over fashion with a sleek look called Lux Tencel and others with space dye backs. The Chinese mill also focused on matte Tencel fabrics, merino peached PFDs and new colors like a silvery gray.
Kingpins Amsterdam’s new industrial location was a nod to denim’s workwear roots.
For Kaltex, the rigid styles popularized in the ’90s continue to provide inspiration. Rigidlooking 11-ounce fabrics with defined twill lines and crosshatching offer brands the nostalgic base they need for their throwback collections, while 28-30 percent stretch offers comfort and ease. The mill is also introducing more recycled cotton, organic pigments and topical treatments like peppermint oil to add antimicrobial properties.
DENIM PREMIÈRE VISION
More than 80 exhibitors gathered at Denim Première Vision in Berlin in May to showcase their latest collections and sustainable R&D developments. The show presented a chance for the supply chain to mingle with the creative minds behind brands as well. Companies like upcycled label Blue of a Kind, Isko client Jonathan Christopher and Peppino Peppino, the modern workwear line by Simona Testucci and Alessio Berto, owner of The Tailor Pattern
DREAM TEAM When Kingpins Show organizers evolved its educational Transformers event into a foundation in 2020 to foster actionable change and sustainable collaboration, they aimed to bring together all the key players in the denim industry, including trade shows. The message resonated with Munich-based denim trade show Bluezone, which invited the Transformers Foundation to host a seminar series at its next event Aug. 30-31. At the show’s Keyhouse lecture hall, the foundation will hold two seminars centered on energy and decarbonization, and innovation. Transformers will provide a “vetted round-up of the truest innovations on the market” and opportunities for attendees to network with the people behind them.
Support, shared the floor with mills, laundries and technology providers. The companies responsible for denim’s bold look as of late were also in attendance. Family-owned and -run Italian laundry Blue Jeans Lavanderie, which counts piping hot Diesel and other OTB Group brands as clients, presented their chlorine- and potassium-free permanganate approaches to achieve the indemand 3D effects seen on the F/W 22-23 catwalk. The MSLR-compliant laundry uses Soko’s Lumina solution, a chlorine substitute that allows for better control and more defined ozone finishing. Alberto Rossi, Blue Jeans Lavanderie general manager, said the high-end market is beginning to shift from the worn-in vintage Levi’s look to bolder contrasts, needle punching and color. The company is also experimenting with updating deadstock from their own showroom with hand-painting designs.
This will be Transformers Foundation’s first in-person event since the start of the pandemic. It has held online events dedicated to specific regions like Brazil and “a Truth Series” debunking myths about topics like greenwashing, cotton claims and chemicals. Both parties are embracing the new partnership. “We are super excited and feel very honored to host the Transformers Foundation in Munich as real partners,” said Sebastian Klinder, Munich Fabric Start managing director. “Education and collaboration are the driving forces that shape our industry. We see a huge potential and opportunity in this unexpected alliance and take the chance to prove what we can achieve with collaboration in these current times.” Collaboration in the denim industry is long overdue, according to Andrew Olah, Kingpins Show and Transformers Foundation founder. “The more our industry collaborates, the more we can bring sustainable change to the denim industry,” he said. —A.V.
A D V E R T O R I A L
Collaboration Drives Development of Top Trending Fibers Denim brands always must remain a step ahead to capitalize on top consumer trends. But at Naveena Denim Mills, the manufacturer knows that developing the right fabric is contingent on its partnerships with other denim players. Here, Aydan Tuzun, executive director of sales and marketing at Naveena Denim Mills, pulls back the curtain on the manufacturer’s collaborations such as the Future Cellulosic collections and the SELF-FIT fabric technology. Rivet: What consumer trends have your retail partners been seeing in 2022 and how are you catering to these demands? Aydan Tuzun: We have been witnessing two main trends lately. The first one is conscious and smart stretch fabrics. The Covid-pandemic helped accelerate momentum toward athleisure and loungewear in fashion as consumers shift their focus from trend to function. Smart stretch fabrics provide comfort but also have lower impact on environment. Our WRAPTECH 2.0 and SELFFIT fabrics reflect this trend. The second trend is authentic, rustic, earthy fabrics, combining old and new—harvested and regenerated to find eco-alternatives for our industry. Natural tones and earthy tie dyes cement this trend with a modern hippie attitude. We have also collaborated with Circular Systems to transform agricultural crop leftovers into scalable, natural fiber denim fashion products. These BIOTECH fabrics are made with natural fiber derived from CBD hemp crop residue and refined into textile-grade fiber called Agraloop™ BioFibre. The innovative fiber is sourced for circularity, with a manufacturing process that uses nearly zero water.
“Lead times were always important for our clients, but now, agility is king.”
How has your team been navigating supply chain constraints and delivery delays over the past year? A.T.: Alongside the supply chain constraints and delivery delays, prices for energy, raw materials and salaries are rising along the entire chain. Raw material prices, cotton in particular, are changing almost daily. The recent situation in Ukraine also had a negative impact. Most of our customers are long-term partners who follow the market closely, so they understand the reasons for the fabric price increases and delivery delays. Lead times were always important for our clients, but now, agility is king. Controlling over our raw materials keeps us away from the dangers of everyday changes and we can commit to long-term pricing strategies and accurate timing. Naveena has developed the circular collection Future Cellulosic. How did this come about, and what are its defining characteristics? A.T.: FUTURE CELLULOSIC is a collaborative collection exploring ways to design modern, forward thinking denim garments using the best TENCEL™ Lyocell advancements. Garments were designed by denim studio ENDRIME® and sustainably finished by the experts at OFFICINA+39. This collection hopefully is a starting point to inspire the denim community to design with a circular mindset, using sustainable garment finishing. TENCEL™ Lyocell and Modal fibers derived from certified and controlled wood sources, bring softness and strength, while special attention has been made with removable buttons and circle bar tacks, so these garments can completely be recycled in end of use. What are you hoping to accomplish in implementing SELF-FIT technology into your jeans production process? A.T.: We have been getting a lot of positive reactions to our SELF-FIT technology in collaboration with The LYCRA Company. The technology, part of our WRAPTECH 2.0 fabrics, offers products that fit different body types and sizes at the same time, guarantees comfort, helps to prevent product returns, mitigates restocking expenses, and decreases the number of unsold items to be sent to landfills. A pair of SELF-FIT jeans fits two sizes up to and down, so it is adaptable to any silhouette, and provides excellent shape retention and recovery. Lastly, SELF-FIT means fewer carbon emissions from transportation and durable and longer wear life garments for everyone.
After months of virtual meetings, Denim Première Vision attendees were eager to touch fabrics once again.
Living up to its name, Fashion Art, the Italian product developer that counts Balmain, Chanel and Armani as clients, showed a shift to statement trims. Swarovski crystals and highshine hardware punctuated pieces with mixed media fabrications, oversized cargo pocketing and double waist constructions. A rep said florescent colors, leather effects and laminated looks are especially popular now. Denim manufacturer Chottani introduced a slow fashion concept that uses carved wood block prints. The company is paying a group of women in Hala, Pakistan to apply the prints to denim by hand, using only natural dyes derived from pomegranate and turmeric. The fabrics are cured after printing to ensure color fastness. CEO Aamir Chottani said that the company is not committing to large quantities, noting that it takes about five to six months to produce 100-150 pieces. Overdyed prints, hotfix Swarovski crystals, bleach dyed corduroy and hand painted denim—which Fiorucci recently tapped Chottani to produce—are among the other popular requests, he added. Companies also balanced fashion with core denim products. Recycled cotton and BCI cotton laid the groundwork to Realteks Tekstil’s collection of tried-and-true indigo fabrics. Marbled effects, open-ended constructions, and authentic shirting are some of the key items coming out of the Turkish company’s newly acquired smart factory. Meanwhile, sister company Recott offered PFD and non-denim products with a wide range of stripes, checks, metallics coating and knit constructions that look woven. Eurotay made its Denim Première Vision debut ahead of its looming growth spurt. The 84
Serbian manufacturer currently produces 200,000 garments per month. Thanks to a facility expansion in progress, it aims to reach 500,000 per month in three years, which will make it largest manufacturer in Europe. No matter how much it produces, Eurotay has a variety of designs on offer. A nostalgic collection offers ’80s- and ’90s-inspired fabrics. A heritage line centers on selvedge denim that can be washed down to look worn. Novelties span ultra-wide silhouettes and twisted seams. Digital prints were among the eye-catching designs in SM Denim’s booth but the Karachi, Pakistan-based manufacturer has much more in the works, including opening its own spinning mill in 2024. The traceable spinning unit will make the company vertically integrated. Mills answered the call for comfort in various ways. To counter what “the classic denim guys do,” an Indigo Tunel representative said the company is focused on perfecting knit jacquards with various weights, gauges and “different optics.” Highlights include knit button-down shirts that have the smooth appearance of a woven but the lasting comfort and recovery of knit, as well as seamless athleisure and blends with Lurex. Naveena Denim Limited (NDL) presented mechanical stretch denims. The natural stretch fabrics, with 13 percent stretch, have better shrinkage rates than jeans with elastane. Square Denim showcased its “ballerina” concept with 85 percent stretch and no growth. The fabric was one of many concepts highlighted for F/W 23-24, including vintageinspired fabrics, “always raw” finishes and “cactus” denim made with waterless dyeing. Companies also emphasized smarter methods to produce jeans. While sustainability
was at the heart of most new collections and technologies, reps emphasized how their companies are working faster and more efficiently. Indigo Textile presented its zero-waste concept developed in collaboration with U.S. designer Danielle Elsner, who approached the idea from a practical viewpoint: to save money. For the collection, Eisner created three zerowaste patterns for a unisex jacket, jeans and kids’ jeans. By using 100 percent of the fabric for a single pattern, the more precise they could be when they place their order, the less waste (fabric and money) would be left on the cutting room floor. The pieces were made with Indigo Textile’s fabrics constructed from hollow yarns that promote temperature regulation without the use of synthetics. While Kassim purchases recycled cotton fibers from Texloop to help close the loop, the Pakistani company is producing its own indigo solution called Smart Indigo. Developed with Swiss textile technology provider Sedo, Smart Indigo reduces Kassim’s chemical and water usage through an electrochemical dyeing process and allows the company to bypass the supply chain and delivery issues plaguing all industries. A rep said the company began to transition to Smart Indigo in 2018. When the pandemic slowed production in 2020, however, it provided Kassim the opportunity to adopt it for 100 percent of its production. Wiser Wash brought its Ozone Tumbler to Denim Premiere Vision for the first time, offering exhibitors a visual tour of the smart details that make the machine both worker and planet friendly. The machine—made specifically to work seamlessly with its patented ozone bleaching Wiser Wash technology—is equipped with artificial intelligence and 40 sensors that essentially learn with the workers, providing an analysis of the laundry process while identifying bottlenecks and creative solutions. The tumbler also eliminates some of the common hassles workers often encounter on the laundry floor. A prominent LED light around the door of the machine alerts workers when the cycle is finished (green light) and when an error occurred (red light). The filter door is placed on the front for easy access, and the machine, made with a composite shell used in the aviation industry, has no hard corners. Vav Technology highlighted the efficiencies of its “never ending power” laser machinery. Whereas the intensity of most lasers begins to degrade after four years and requires expensive canister refills, Oscar Munoz, Vav Technology area sales manager, said Vav’s machinery has self-refilling gas canisters, meaning production never needs to slow down or stop. Evolx showcased fabrics made with organic cotton, recycled fibers and zero polyester. The Spanish denim manufacturer also presented
A D V E R T O R I A L
How Workplace Diversity, Health Initiatives Empower Sustainable Production Whether providing clean drinking water or ensuring increased gender diversity in the workplace, a holistic conducive work environment is a prerequisite for improved and sustainable production. US Denim Mills knows that prioritizing health and safety within a manufacturing operation is pivotal toward successfully catering to the newest consumer trends and sustainability demands. Moeen Akram, director of marketing at US Denim Mills, tells Rivet about how the company has leveraged sustainability targets to improve denim production, and its mission to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Rivet: What consumer trends in denim have your retail partners been seeing thus far in 2022? Moeen Akram: Authenticity will still be on top in 2022. US Denim Mills is known for its authentic range, and we have been selling to famous brands for decades and are continuously diversifying with regards to sustainability, shades, aesthetics, blends and weights. Top styles are mostly rigid, but comfort stretches will also remain relevant. We are seeing increased demand for flex jeans with easy stretchability, and we have products with Lycra Free FIT and Adaptive Lycra technology by Invista, which provide less compression while worn. Sustainability continues to be a key trend, as more brands become eco-conscious and demand responsible, circular and zero-waste products. We are thrilled to deliver on this demand and give back to nature. How has your team been maneuvering the supply chain constraints and delivery delays over the past year? M.A.: Our supply chain department has worked efficiently to overcome the challenges that the textile
“Our Reverse Osmosis (RO) Plant provides clean drinking water to 1,650 employees and our neighboring community.”
industry has faced. We have focused on inventory corrections, improved budget planning, diversifying our supplier portfolio and including them in our speak-up policy. This ensures transparent communication with key stakeholders along with proactive communication with their customers. In your 2021 Sustainability Report, US Denim Mills shares success stories on gender diversity, tree plantation and clean drinking water. How does such progress improve your denim production operation? M.A.: Gender Diversity: We set a target to increase the number of women in our workplace to 20 percent. Women have been hired on merit in all departments, including our production floor. We have seen remarkable improvements since launching the initiative, creating a more productive social environment based on adaptability and solidarity. This creates healthy competition and delivers diversified solutions for daily matters as both genders have different perspectives. All this leads to better and more efficient production. Tree Plantation: This helps offset our carbon footprint. Our pragmatic sustainability mantra went beyond the workplace when we extended our tree plantation drive, “Adopt a Plant,” to the employees’ homes, making it a collective responsibility. Clean Drinking Water: We are giving 100 percent clean drinking water that complies with WHO standards, resulting in healthy workers and better efficiency. Our Reverse Osmosis (RO) Plant can provide clean drinking water to 1,650 employees across US Denim Mills and its neighboring community. In September 2021, US Denim Mills joined the Net-Zero Coalition, launched by the Pakistan Environment Trust. What are some of the mill’s biggest goals to achieving Net-Zero emissions by 2050? M.A.: We have set an internal target to achieve 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by the end of the year as a part of our Sustainability Challenge 2022. Contributions will come from our targets to reduce energy consumption by 45 percent across electricity, steam, natural gas and liquified petroleum gas, as well as substituting 20 percent of electricity with renewable energy like solar power. We also signed the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) commitment letter on April 27, 2022 and are currently developing SBTi goals and a roadmap to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
SM OE UT AR VC EI NR GS E T K
no-wash fabrics. The unique shade of workwear blue looks good as it is without intense finishing. There was no shortage of closed-loop concepts. Eurotay presented three styles that meet the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Jeans Redesign guidelines. The 100 percent cotton jeans are produced with removeable buttons and enzyme washes. The company is exploring cotton alternatives like hemp, lyocell and 100 percent recycled cotton fabrications. Indigo Textile presented 100 percent recycled fabrics comprised of 99 percent post-industrial recycled cotton and 1 percent recycled elastane. Maintaining the strength of entirely recycled materials remains a challenge, but a rep said it is possible with medium and heavy weight fabrics. The fabrics will be used by H&M for an upcoming Jeans Redesign collection. In its return to denim trade shows, Turkish denim mill Isko presented its signature fabric franchises like the Isko Reform, known for its high elasticity, and Isko Pop, which has softness mechanically built into the construction, with a circular twist. Over 95 percent of the collection contains a minimum of 50 percent recycled content, underscoring the company’s focus minimizing virgin components. Keith O’Brien, Isko senior PR manager, said the No. 1 priority is to take what’s relevant for the market and make it better for the planet. Though some brands are wary of using leather—a rep from Turkish trims supplier Kasiv said most are opting for jacquard patches—the brand made a valid effort to present recycled leather patches. The patches are made of upcycled leather scraps combined with a water-based chemical that bonds the pieces. Kasiv also presented labels made with apple and corn byproducts. Collaboration is the backbone to many innovations. Though Indigo Textile will open its own spinning mill in 2025, it is currently working with Sapphire Textile to improve the
quality of its fibers embedded with FibreTrace. The traceable technology, which is being used by brands like Reformation, is available in a limited range of Indigo Textile fabrics, but a rep said the company is open to expanding its use at a client’s request. Traceability, he added, needs to be scalable to make an impact. Rashid Iqbal, Naveena Denim Limited (NDL) executive director, wants 360-degree collaborations between brands, mills and fibers to become the new norm. The mill’s hemp collaboration with Tom Tailor is an example of the benefits that come from a team effort. NDL worked with the German brand to find the “sweet spot” of four hemp-blended fabrics
Isko Luxury by PG
LUXE APPEAL A new collaboration showcases the luxury appeal of denim. Turkish denim mill Isko teamed with PG Denim founder Paolo Gnutti to create Isko Luxury by PG—Born to Amaze, a capsule collection combining popular fabric franchises like Isko Scratch + Jean and Isko Cosy with Gnutti’s high-end approach to fabric product development. Geared to the premium and luxury markets, the collection debuted at Denim Première Vision in Berlin. “The collaboration with Isko is exciting on so many levels because together we can really take the premium sector to the next level thanks to the company’s pioneering and game-changing technologies,” Gnutti said. “As a result, luxury aesthetic will feature new and exclusive fabrics that will bring a unique twist to the world of fashionable luxury denim.”
(hemp, recycled cotton and Tencel) used across men’s, women’s and children’s jeans and jackets. Iqbal said it took NDL and Tom Tailor a year and a half to perfect the indigo and gray fabrics, but NDL’s schooling in hemp began years prior when its team traveled to China to learn about the fiber at Kingdom Mills. A concept collection developed with Lenzing called Bast Recast gave the mill the confidence to push forward with hemp. That level of confidence ultimately led NDL to develop rope-dyed 100 percent hemp fabric. Though pricey for most brands, the experimental fabric pays homage to the first fabrics that were ever woven, likely with hemp, Iqbal said.
Divided into seven concepts, including understated elegance, logo mania and rock ‘n’ roll influences, Gnutti’s designs reflects the various aesthetics being explored in high-end collections and the capabilities of Isko’s Creative Room, a division devoted to streamlined and simplified solutions from fabric to finished garment. Though Isko’s recent efforts have been focused on increasing its use of recycled fibers, the partnership with Gnutti serves as a reminder that products still need to resonate with consumers’ personal style and how they want to express themselves. “That one of the most appreciated figures in the denim community and Isko have teamed up is a really exciting thing to see,” said Marco Lucietti, Isko director of strategic projects. “It is such a great time for denim, innovation and creativity and we are very thrilled to be paving the way for the whole industry with the most revolutionary technological innovation mixed with Paolo’s creative touch which we know will bring out the very best of Isko denim’s qualities.” —A.V.
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time-worn faded and ripped jeans and chain-stitched jackets. Cuffs were turned up to reveal selvedge IDs, and chains and key rings dangled from belt loops. Traditional leather boots, hats and pendant necklaces completed the heritage look. Women embraced looser-fitting jackets, jackets with overalls, often cuffing the hem to frame sensible clogs, combat boots and colorful sneakers. Midi circle skirts and pleated skirts were a practical length for bicyclists, while boxy chore jackets and laser-printed trench coats were a final touch for some. Streetwear’s influence on denim was also present. Colorful jeans, oversized patches, logo-adorned backpacks and a myriad of caps underscored the show’s laidback vibe.
Photography: Team Peter Stigter for Kingpins Show
Have you ever tried to explain what Kingpins Amsterdam is all about to an industry outsider? Calling it a trade show doesn’t do it justice because a large part of the event’s atmosphere and energy bubbles up from the attendees and what they wear. New fabric collections and sustainable technologies are newsworthy, but the designers, consultants, and general fans of all things indigo take personal denim style to a whole new level at what arguably is the industry’s most social event. The street style seen at Kingpins Amsterdam this spring was no different. After being postponed for two years, the show brought out the best of attendees’ closets. Denim heads flaunted their
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